Category Archives: Lesson study

MFL Lesson Study- Poems or Grammar?

Four of our MFL faculty have worked as lesson study pairs [with me as the 3rd man in the room] to plan together on 2 enquiry questions that reflect their concerns re the changing curriculum and G.C.S.E. demands.

Bronagh [Spanish subject leader] and Marion [French/EAL coordinator] worked together on their enquiry-Which methodology is most successful in retention and recalling verb conjugations? Helen H [MFL faculty leader] and Helen F planned and observed each other teach their enquiry question – Is the inclusion of literary based activities in the new KS3 curriculum a motivating tool compared to normal grammar/vocab based lessons?

These were brief introductions [2 lessons each] to more detailed follow up throughout summer as the faculty plans its next schemes of learning. The theme of learning retention ran through our last blog [Shuffle your Sums http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=1739 ] our current science lesson study and my ‘Quality of Teaching’ session for our NPQSL visitors last Friday.

Bronagh and Marion, without getting into the traditional v progressive teaching argument, planned their first lessons based on quite traditional pedagogical approaches before trying a more student led interactive approach [the one Ofsted deny they preferred!] They checked the impact of their teaching with short quizzes, before, during and after before leaving a gap to see if long term memories had captured the taught knowledge. Bronagh feeding back on Marion’s first lesson felt that 2 of the students had begun to improve their previous knowledge-conjugating etre.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good a mark as previous.

Marion used traditional style teacher led activities.

1.       Starter: Odd one out. Students will practice thinking skills to revise some previous vocabulary and introduce the focus of the lesson.
2.       Etre vs. To be: Students will need to match the French to the English using their knowledge of pronouns. 
3.       Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt.
4.       Writing task: Students will need to recall all information from the lesson to write each sentence. Students will only have access to the nationalities- no other support! 

If you are reading this blog and haven’t seen the lesson study approach before-the teacher predicts how their teaching strategies will impact on student learning [3 chosen students] and the 2 observing colleagues [and sometimes the IRIS camera] check to see what actually happens. The discussion afterwards digs deeply into the reasons for any differences in predictions and reality with a big focus on learning [of the students] and the development of the teacher [and observer/coach] An example of one of the strategies, predictions and actual observed response is here;

1.       Nationalities: Students will need to translate the sentences which will check how much they have recalled. This will also test their thinking skills and practice dictionary work as this is not something they have previously learnt. All students will be able to translate all the sentences with no issues as reading is a strength for many students. A was able to translate all sentences independently and only struggled with her spelling of the nationalities. B also had no problem translating all the sentences. C struggled to translate all the sentences as he had got confused in the previous exercise but he did attempt to answer them using his knowledge of pronouns.

All of our lesson study shared examples can be found here;

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?cat=8

Bronagh and Marion then discussed how the learning had developed and made their first reflections before planning their second lessons.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A is now fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. B is fully able to conjugate the verb etre using her knowledge of pronouns and from the practice she had today. C showed the potential to be able to form the verb etre and was previously really confident in his abilities and keen to share his answers. When he got distracted he lost his confidence and struggled to complete the other tasks as he would not get as good of a mark as previous.
Initial Thoughts From the results of this study it appears that the teacher led lesson in which students learning grammar in a rote fashion has proved to be a success. All students were fully engaged in the lesson and made progress and although it was rote learning MY still proved this could be done in a fun and engaging manner especially with the song! We will now complete a more student led lesson where they will need to learn a different grammar point independently and compare the results to see which method is best.

Bronagh adopted a similar approach for her first lesson-it was just the language which changed!

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They then changed tactics for the second round of lessons to introduce a carousel of activities which saw the students moving around the room to different bases. Prior knowledge was tested and then re-tested.

1.       Starter: Recall of the near future tensePupils will be shown the 6 phrases in Spanish and will need to recall the meaning in English.
2.       Carousel Activity 1: FlashcardsPupils will have 8 minutes to sit independently using the flashcards to practice and memorise the endings.
3.       Carousel Activity 2: LaptopsPupils will get the opportunity to practice the endings on an interactive exercise.
4.       Carousel Activity 3: Listening ExercisePupils will be able to listen to a recording of the endings to revise.
Plenary: Final check-Pupils will be shown the English phrases and will need to be able to recall the Spanish translations in the correct order without any notes.

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What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? All 3 students were able to conjugate the verb in the future tense by the end of the lesson. They appeared to react well to the continual testing at the end of each activity particularly A.
Initial Thoughts It will be interesting to assess how well the students retain what they have learnt at a later date. I think highlighting the importance of grammar early on will have a positive effect in the long run. Although the testing was repetitive, because the activities changed each time, all of the students seemed to enjoy the lesson. No one complained of it being boring.

Of course Marion is correct in her feedback-the key aspect to learning is can it be retained at a later date either through quizzes, assessments or highlighting usage when appropriate in future learning tasks. You can see Bronagh’s response to my question; -have you evidence that the learning from the lessons has stuck in their long term memory-how do you know/have you tested again?

“I tested them the week after the 1st lesson on the near future tense and none of them could recall all of the vocabulary. Out of the three students we were observing only A could recall one ending. However when they were reminded of them in lesson that week and again as a starter the following week they were are able to recall them fully on the 3rd attempt during your second observation.

For the future tense which we taught on the second lesson they were all able to recall it fully the following week but I haven’t tested them on that since. Even though this was the one that appeared to stick best to begin with I have noticed in their written work they always seem to use the first one they learnt. So even though it took them to be reminded 3 times it may have stuck more?!

I will test them both again in a few weeks to see if they can still remember and use it!”

Marion added,

“I have tested several times. Some have it firmly anchored now, others are improving their score each time I test them. I have realised that they need to have learnt the personal pronouns thoroughly before the verb conjugation and I will make sure I do this next year early on.   I will be giving them the 3 main verbs to revise again over the holidays using whatever method they choose.  I will report back in the summer.”

A couple of our blogs since Xmas have used student surveys to help us consider their needs and opinions to support our planning. Interestingly the recent paper from the Teaching School research and development network which began by offering their key messages about what makes great pedagogy [14 points] had the first 5 related to student voice. Each lesson study should provide an opportunity for either the 3 students observed or usually the whole class to respond.

Talk with pupils about their learning, listen carefully, and involve them

  1. The importance of taking account of pupil voice comes through consistently. It means that teachers go beyond thinking about what they are going to teach and how, to consulting with students about their experiences as learners.
  2. Taking account of pupil voice appears to enable teachers to change or adapt their pedagogic approach and create a virtuous cycle of improvement.
  3. Taking account of pupil voice appears to help develop positive relationships. The engagement and enjoyment of pupils appears to be a positive consequence of this.
  4. 4Talking with pupils about their learning appears to enable teachers to make links between teaching approaches and their impact on pupil progress and attainment.
  5. Involving pupils in the planning and teaching of their lessons can increase their enjoyment and engagement in learning.

Helen and Helen!

I’ll go backwards then and begin with the survey that Helen H used after her second lesson. This could have been carried out before to see how the students viewed their learning up to that point or as Helen has done, to find out what they felt about the experience so she can use their views to help her planning. The only problem, as Helen mentioned to me, is that 7 set 1 are very positive about their learning and life in general and may tell you what they think you want them to say!

Feedback from Year 7 NTEN Lesson Quiz

7 set 1 French with Helen Hallmark

Please answer the following questions honestly

28 students replied anonymously to this survey.

Think about the French poetry lesson last week. How does it compare to your usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = Less interesting
25% 2 = The same
64.3% 3 = More interesting

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you learnt more or less French words than in usual French lessons?

14.3% 1 = I learnt less words
28.6% 2 = I learnt the same amount of words
53.6% 3 = I learnt more words

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you made more or less progress than in usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = I made less progress
50% 2 = I made the same amount of progress
39.3% 3 = I made more progress

3.6% = void

Would you like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories?

14.3% 1 = I wouldn’t like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories
86% 2 = I would like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories

What is the best way to learn vocabulary for you?

I allowed multiple answers to this question and additional answers.

57.1% 1 = Through the teacher, listening, repeating and writing it down
21.4% 2 = Looking it up in a dictionary
39.3% 3 = Seeing and using it in a poem or story

3.6% said through activities and games

3.6% said by writing notes and revising at home on own

3.6% said visually.

The first 2 lessons from both Helens were traditional [ish] grammar lessons and traditional topics others may remember from their school days.

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Helen H used her prior data to see how the students would make initial short term progression.

Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
1.       Students should be able to correctly give the date and month of their birthday and understand the birthday dates of others.2.       They should be able to recite the days of the week in French and understand which days is which when not in a chronological order. A-SEN need =AR.  A has speech and language difficulties.On the first mini test, A scored 48/48 and achieved a Bronze level on his writing piece. B- has no additional needs.  I find her to be very good orally but rushes her written work. B is entitled to FSM.On the first mini test, B scored 45/48 and achieved a Bronze level on her writing piece. C- has no additional needs or pupil premium indicators.On the first mini test, C scored 47/48 and achieved a Silver level on her writing piece.

This was Helen’ F’s first attempt at lesson study and it was interesting for her as an NQT to work with Helen who has been teaching for nearly 30 years! As an ITT students she probably stuck rigidly to university style lesson plans and the prediction style LS plan aimed at thinking hard about learning can be tricky, especially if singing is involved!

SongPupils will listen to the alphabet song from YouTube all the way through first then for the second time they will sing along. A this will be too lively and energetic for A . He won’t join in singing and won’t dance or connect with the song in any wayB will be quite self-conscious at first about joining in and will probably need a bit of encouragement to start singing it.

C will sing and dance along with the song and will be enthusiastic and lively when singing along – he will probably request it again

You were correct.  A was not very enthusiastic and didn’t really engage with the song.  He did half-heartedly join in and mouth some of the letters. B joined in with singing along to the letters but didn’t maintain the momentum and gave up after a while. C joined in but didn’t look up at the song on the whiteboard he preferred to say his letters by looking at the sheet you gave them.

Helen then considered how the learning had developed and wondered how the introduction of literary elements, as required by the new curriculum, would impact on both the learning and her teaching.

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A was able to spell his name with support and encouragement from the teacher. Without that, as demonstrated in the plenary, he was not able to complete this alone and became frustrated B was able to spell her name and was able to recognise the letter sounds during the plenary. She attempted all tasks and got most of her answers correct in the plenary. C can confidently spell his name. He did this aloud for the class and demonstrated his knowledge well in the plenary.
Initial Thoughts A didn’t seem enthusiastic about this lesson. Perhaps he will be more engaged with the poetry lesson. B made good progress in the lesson and showed good Growth Mind Set by not giving up throughout and for asking for support. I think she will continue to show the same enthusiasm in the poetry lesson and will also ask for support where necessary. C made good progress in this lesson as he does in most Spanish lessons. It will be interesting to see how he copes with group work situations and with the different aspect of studying Spanish literature

08

There was a lot of interaction and movement this time and quite challenging aspects of group work followed by the poetry writing. Helen F felt afterwards;

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A really struggled with this lesson after learning the initial vocabulary. He did try to contribute to his group but didn’t offer much. He did find the task of writing his own poem difficult despite support from the teacher. B was her usual enthusiastic self throughout the lesson and tried her best at every activity. She did require support for writing her own poem. She managed to fit words into her acrostic poem. C was able to recall the vocabulary well and contributed well to the group word, often becoming the group leader. He did overthink the acrostic poem task and did require support with this.
Initial Thoughts A’s responses to the questionnaire were mostly negative towards the poetry lesson. A does have literacy difficulties so the lesson didn’t appeal to his strengths which I believe to be the reason for this reaction. A will need more support for lessons like this in the future. I think she enjoyed this lesson. On her questionnaire B said she enjoyed the lesson but learnt the same amount of words and made the same amount of progress. C stated on his questionnaire that he learnt more words but wouldn’t like to do another literature based lesson again.

There was a mixed response from the students on the assessment of their own learning and this was useful in helping Helen consider how she might include poetry again. In an old style lesson observation it is doubtful whether or not this important developmental aspect of feedback and reflection would ever have happened. Equally important for Helen’s development was the opportunity now to observe her faculty leader introduce French poetry [written by a Belgian] into her lesson. The students in their above survey were quite positive about the experience but Helen H wasn’t quite sure before the lesson as to how her chosen 3 would react to her tactics.

1.       Students are given envelopes with a cut up poem and English translations.  They have 7 minutes to put in the translated sentences next to the original French. They are to work in pairs and can use their dictionaries. A is more able than his partner, but slower in dexterity.  I think they will complete some of the translations successfully but I don’t think this pair will finish the task in the time allowed. B will ask lots of questions and demand someone to one help but I don’t think she and her partner will complete the task if they get a bit of teacher guidance. I think Cand will complete this task successfully without any teacher input.
2.       Once they have had a chance to translate the poem, students will be asked to reassemble it into what they think is the correct order. I think A and partner might struggle to reassemble it and might lose some of their original translations in the process.  I think B will take over from partner in re-ordering the poem but she can be a little careless and I think she might lose some of their original translations in the process.  I think C and partner will be able to re-arrange the poem fairly successfully without losing too many translations in the process.

It was quite a different poem!

09

 

What were they able to do?What progress they made and how do you know? A worked better in this lesson than I had predicted.  He and his partner achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson.  He also coped well with the acrostic poem and was able to put adjectives which agreed with the noun. B enjoyed this lesson.  She told me so.  She was keen to do all aspects of the work and didn’t totally dominate her quieter partner.  It seems she wasn’t as confident with the bi-lingual dictionary as partner.  B and partner also achieved Gold in the assessed part of the lesson C coped well with the translation work and dictionary work and she and her partner achieved Gold for the assessed part of the lesson.  They were less confident when asked to put the poem into its original order, however.  They probably would have benefited some guidance on thinking –skills. (Strategies such as reading the English translations, looking at the overall structure and pattern of the poem to see where the refrain went.)  C also struggled more with the acrostic poem than she needed to.  I went over to give her guidance but she was insistent on doing the acrostic poem ‘properly’ i.e. not intersecting words anywhere on the template but only using the letters of Ma Trousse as the start of her own words.  This made the poem much more complex than it needed to be.

Helen H’s reflection focused on how she might have supported the ‘thinking’ skills which some found tough and you can see her experienced mind ticking over and preparing her teaching strategies for ‘next time.’ To be the best teacher that we can be needs us to develop a mind-set of critical self-evaluation and support for each other with peer feedback-lesson study is a perfect vehicle for this approach to be encouraged in a non-judgmental fashion.

Helen informed me that her follow-up to check learning retention has begun;

“I actually really enjoyed putting a poem into my scheme of learning and this lesson study has encouraged me to think of doing more literature based lessons.  Some of the students asked for more on the bottom of the surveys they completed.

I have written some follow on questions to accompany this lessons to see if the class have retained the vocab in their long term memory.  See attached file [below].  I will get them to answer the questions in class and will feed back to you the responses.”

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I was pleased to see the TDT, who support NTEN lesson study becoming involved in a new CPD expert group aiming to share the most effective methods of professional development for teachers [and I hope all staff]. The Teaching School’s research and development network, mentioned earlier in the blog re great pedagogy, have also shared their findings re CPD based on the views of some forward thinking schools. I would argue that lesson study and our other collaborative CPD are at different stages in developing each and every one of these key messages. We aren’t there yet but I think that we have our ‘end in mind!’

Key messages about great professional development

Think about the pupils’ needs and the impact you want to have

  1. Great professional development starts ‘with the end in mind’ and is specific about the relationship between pupils’ learning needs and teachers’ beliefs, behaviours and practices.
  2. Starting with the end in mind also provides a clear structure for the professional development and its impact on teacher practices and outcomes for pupils.
  3. Effective professional development requires teachers to be forensically clear about their starting points in order to be able to evaluate impact – but to also be prepared for unexpected outcomes.
  4. Great professional development is rooted in the classroom and starts with an issue that is relevant for teachers and their pupils.
  5. Taking serious account of pupil voice helps teachers to genuinely understand the impact of new interventions / practices as a result of their professional learning.
  6. Enabling teachers to focus on the difference they want to make for their pupils is highly motivating and effective professional development.

Help colleagues to think seriously and differently about their practice

  1. Effective professional development requires teachers to challenge their existing practice and make connections between how they teach and how pupils learn.
  2. Great professional development requires teachers to truly look at their own practice and pre-conceptions about what they think students understand and what they actually do understand.
  3. The ‘conditions for challenge’ need to be in place e.g. trust, honesty and time for deep conversations.

Provide opportunities for colleagues to engage in deep collaborative learning

  1. Mentoring and coaching can be powerful when personalised, developmental and undertaken over time.
  2. Providing sufficient time for deep, high quality talk between teachers is beneficial for professional relationships and leads to deep learning.
  3. Working, planning, sharing and collaborating with colleagues is stimulating and enables teachers to engage in critical thinking about lessons and learning.

Ensure access to knowledge and skills from inside and outside

  1. Use internal and external expertise to maintain drive and momentum and provide support at different stages, as well as build new expertise and leadership.
  2. Co-create knowledge by bringing together knowledge from practice and knowledge from research.

Use collaborative enquiry to stimulate professional learning – but not as a quick fix

  1. Incorporate collaborative enquiry into professional development as a long term approach. It is not a ‘quick fix’ – it requires persistence.

Facilitate the practicalities to encourage a learning culture

  1. Make sure that senior leaders provide necessary conditions for effective professional development to take place e.g. Time, resources, to facilitate an open classroom culture.

I included 3 NQT views on lesson study and their CPD a previous blog and this time conclude with Helen Forest’s views-just check how many of the ‘key messages’ she mentions without realising it!

Q1 Why did you want to become involved in lesson study-I didn’t twist arms [on this occasion!]-what did you hope to get out of it?

I saw it as a good opportunity to work with someone else in my department and to gain more strategies about MFL teaching. Helen is an experienced teacher so I was grateful for the opportunity to observe two of her lessons and in turn improve my own teaching. We chose to do a lesson based on the new curriculum changes which are almost upon us. It gave us the opportunity to see what worked and what didn’t. It helped us to plan how to make Spanish/French poetry accessible for Year 7 pupils, who themselves have a limited vocabulary.

Q2 Has it fulfilled your expectations? What have been the main benefits?

The main benefits have been able to plan a lesson together, to share ideas and to learn from each other. It also means that when the new curriculum changes do come in both myself and Helen will be able to bring something to our department’s “ideas table” of how to go about it. It makes the, what at first seemed a very daunting task, easier to approach and plan for.

Q3 What are the drawbacks/concerns/pitfalls-any suggestions for changing the process/advice to others?

I don’t think there were any drawbacks. It was a great opportunity to work with a colleague and in fact therefore I thought it reduced to typical observation workload and stress of planning it all and coming up with the ideas. Two heads are definitely better than one. Because it is a lesson study and the highlighted pupils’ reactions are being watched, it made me feel like I wasn’t being observed, therefore reducing the standard observation anxiety.

Q4 It has only been a short study so far and you can continue in summer-where will you take it next? Explain your thinking and reasoning behind your decision and then tell me your ideas on how will you measure the impact on student learning?

The next place to go would be exploring different aspects of literature (e.g. short stories) and how to fit them into our topic areas. The poems that we picked were quite short and therefore could be studied in one lesson. It would be interesting to see, over a longer period of time, whether studying more literature improved the GCSE Reading paper scores for pupils, or just their foreign language reading skills in general. Vocabulary tests and their scores would be interesting to see if they can recall more words after a literature lesson than after a ‘normal’ language lesson.

Q5 It is very early days BUT CPD is only of any use if it directly has a measurable impact on learning-have you been able to use what you have developed already to make a measureable impact on student learning [a slight marginal gain perhaps!] with 1] your lesson study, 2] Your CPD so far

As a result of lesson observations the department is now using the dots scheme. Something which after using it for several months, I would like to adapt slightly to make it more pupil-friendly and to make it a more structured starter. The NQT CPD has been fantastic and what we have asked for has been covered. The peer-assessment for lower ability pupil’s session was especially useful. I feel that I support them much better now when giving feedback to their peers and learnt not to worry about the occasional lack of written feedback and that oral feedback is okay.

Q6 What else can we do to help your development at MCHS? I hate the statistics about teachers leaving the profession before they have taught for 5 years-be honest and tell me what have we done that works well for you, makes you feel valued, supported, developed etc. and what have you found doesn’t work or we need to re-think. You all tweet now and share your ideas [thank you!] and see ideas from all over the world-tell me some you’ve spotted that we should do to support NQTs.

I feel I have been extremely well supported within my department, by SLT and through the group of NQTs and within our regular NQT meetings. It’s the simple things like arranging for Ian or Sophie to support my Friday afternoon lessons with Year 11 when I had first started in September and they were hard work. Or when Alison stops me in the corridor to check how it is going with Year 11 and to talk about the new dot marking strategy. The NQT CPD has been useful to learn ideas and strategies from the member of staff delivering the information but also to share ideas amongst the other NQTs. The amount of time within departments during Tuesday’s meeting time has also been useful. It has helped me to become a bigger part of the department and allows us share ideas, for example the marking FOCUS meeting that we all participated in. The weekly “check-in” meetings with Mark and Bronagh have been great, just to check I’m doing the right thing or to raise any concerns or queries that I may have

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one where our NQTs did NTEN lesson study.

 

I was interviewing year 11 business studies students earlier in the dining room for their Learning Walk and noticed the video screen flashing up images from past school productions and events. It needs up-dating to be honest-I thought that most of the traces of our last Ofsted inspection had disappeared as we look forward to an exciting future and ask any visitors to judge us for what we are now and what they find currently is the MCHS experience for our learners and staff. For those in our community, the vision that we share for our school will leave the past far behind but I am a historian by teaching trade and of course I’m interested in learning from past successes/failures provided that they don’t obfuscate the future. My eye caught the 2012 quote, that at the time was rightly celebrated, “the school provides a haven of support and aspiration. Individual students are valued and at the same time challenged to succeed.”  The students were completing their surveys silently and for once I didn’t interrupt them as my mind moved to thinking and wondering if the same quote could apply to our adult staff. Other quotes flashed up about “vibrant cultures of continuous improvement” and teachers being self-critical and “keen to learn from each other as how to improve their lessons further” Lovely stuff but in the tough world of modern day teaching, 2 years ago seems like an eternity-no time for laurel resting-are we providing support and aspiration in our adult CPD?

Having just read and shared with our staff, appendix whatever it was, of Ms Morgan’s workload blurb-are we valuing our teachers and support staff enough and are we providing the right environment for them to develop self-challenge and deliver the best learning for our students, without asking too much and being unrealistic in terms of work-load? It’s a question that preoccupies many school leaders now and one I keep returning to. The balancing act of what we feel needs to happen and needs doing to not just sustain, but move forward our school against the limits of our human capital-experience, skills and time [and a hundred more often very individual attributes/constraints] weighs heavily! For the SLT bashers who think otherwise; think again, at least with the other school leaders who I associate/communicate with. I know that the excessive demands felt by some are excused by ‘pressures from above’ and I never diminish the needs of Ofsted or other external demands, however if we are to push a ‘no blame’ culture [bring me solutions!] with our staff, so we shouldn’t seek to blame others for our decisions-we’re big boys and girls and our rigour and workload expectations should be based on our decisions of what our school and its learners need.

My workload balance scales are always desperately trying to consider staff needs but especially so for our NQTs. There are lots of horror stories about their treatment and increasing numbers of young teachers [and old] leaving the profession. Some may need to leave and honestly realise that teaching in 2015 isn’t for them. My dad was a teacher and so are other members of my family including my partner and ex-wife! I can honestly say though that I’ve never encouraged my daughter to follow in my footsteps-much as I’ve loved my profession for a long time, I can recognise that she is her own person and teaching probably wouldn’t have suited her. She actually works in the charity sector for Age Concern so that might come in handy in a couple of years! Other people are born to be teachers [only if qualified though!] and we have to nurture and develop their special skills at the various times in their career. We have a great bunch of NQTs-I want them to stay in teaching and to give them the best possible start to their career, even though others schools will eventually nab them! I’m anxious to consider their CPD needs and for them to honestly tell me how we can best match their individual subject and generic requirements. When colleagues are sometimes cross and tell me that ‘others’ won’t come and say what they really think because ‘you’re the deputy head’ I worry because-1] I want to develop them professionally so that they can say what they feel without fear of reprisals and 2] I’ve failed myself if this doesn’t happen and if this is the case the repercussions of ‘silence’ and ‘whispering’ will eventually filter down to effect student learning. I need the truth from them so we can plan and support appropriately and asked them these questions;

Q1 Why did you want to become involved in lesson study-I didn’t twist arms [on this occasion!]-what did you hope to get out of it?

Q2 Has it fulfilled your expectations? What have been the main benefits?

Q3 What are the drawbacks/concerns/pitfalls-any suggestions for changing the process/advice to others?

Q4 It has only been a short study so far and you can continue in summer-where will you take it next? Explain your thinking and reasoning behind your decision and then tell me your ideas on how will you measure the impact on student learning?

Q5 It is very early days BUT CPD is only of any use if it directly has a measurable impact on learning-have you been able to use what you have developed already to make a measureable impact on student learning [a slight marginal gain perhaps!] with 1] your lesson study, 2] Your CPD so far

Q6 What else can we do to help your development at MCHS? I hate the statistics about teachers leaving the profession before they have taught for 5 years-be honest and tell me what have we done that works well for you, makes you feel valued, supported, developed etc. and what have you found doesn’t work or we need to re-think. You all tweet now and share your ideas [thank you!] and see ideas from all over the world-tell me some you’ve spotted that we should do to support NQTs.

Asking them to answer questions, of course, does eat into their valuable time but one of my main aims is to give them [and all staff] the opportunity to reflect on their practice and to help me re-design our CPD if necessary. I hope these questions proved as valuable to them as to me. I was also concerned that their involvement in lesson study in addition to their other NQT observations and general surge in planning and marking, would be too much. However, they asked to do it and before I could say no, they had begun planning and booking lesson cover!

Beth [maths] and Greg [history] joined forces to consider how “To assess strategies to further engage higher ability learners in the classroom through the use of the ‘Lead Learner’ role” We use Lead Learners in many classrooms and with many different ability groups but as NQTs this was new to them both and as they both teach 7 set 1, a class with some very able KS2 level 6 students, they were anxious to launch a short enquiry to see if their hypothesis that appointing Lead Learners would engage and, of more importance, challenge them and have an positive impact on individual learning, was accurate.

Andrew [geography] won the lottery and got Hannah [2nd in English] out of his lesson study hat and they have both been thinking about “Motivating high ability males to reach their full potential?” They hoped that their enquiry question would dig deep-Hannah, honest as ever and always self-analytical asked; “Can I motivate high ability boys to reach their full potential on a daily basis?” I have written about Hannah’s work and the questionnaire we used in my other non-school blog and will return to the questions raised later as a starter for asking all colleagues to have at least 1 very searching student survey in their professional portfolios. This post is about our NQTs though and Andrew will hopefully have benefited from working with a more experienced colleague.

Helen F [MFL, Spanish] chose to work with one of our most experienced subject leaders and teachers-Helen H [MFL faculty leader, French] and they chose a very practical enquiry question; “Is the inclusion of literary based activities in the new KS3 curriculum a motivating tool compared to normal grammar/vocab based lessons? Their year 11 speaking and listening needs have delayed their second round until after half-term. I’ll include their final feedback in the big Easter sharing of all of our lesson study work involving the more experienced teachers.

Toni only joined us in November so is a lesson study Billy No Mates! Covering Emma’s year 11 geographers has given her more than enough to think about [as well as having me lurking in the room!] and she has found time to send me a great idea only this morning. I’ll tell you more about Toni’s progress later so no lesson study report but I love this idea!

“I’m sure it’s been done before [not by me Toni!] but just an idea I had for DIRT. I’ve started putting little labels on every page that require pupils to respond to feedback. This ensure they don’t miss anything and also makes it easier for me to check their responses! I take the labels off once I am happy with the pupil’s response”

01

What a brilliant DIRTy idea and shared to all earlier.

Beth and Greg trialled their use of Lead Learners in the autumn term and used them to ‘cold’ lead group activities with varied success-some groups were easier to work with than others, some leadership skills needed to be taught and developed beforehand etc. but it was an interesting start.

02

This time they chose their leaders and gave them tasks to prepare at home in readiness for their leadership tasks. They were going to lead the lesson on certain aspects and teach their groups. Rather than use the term co-constructed learning we tend to call it ‘flipped learning’ for the students-‘flipped’ in that they are teaching rather than the teacher. It’s less of a mouthful than CCL, although for purists not really US style ‘flipped learning’- if it works, I don’t care what it is called! [Apart from Liverpool FC perhaps!]

Greg went first with the Black Death and his Lead Learners were given this home-learning task.

03

Of the 3 target students, Greg predicted that A would have;

Created a strong presentation for their group. A will confidently teach their peers about the BD ensuring that each student makes notes and checks understanding. They will ensure all of the 3 key questions have been answered.

B he felt would have;

Created a simple PPT, with lots of information. They will have prepared well and will know their own information. However B will speed through their task and may struggle to get across the information required. This may lead to students not fully understanding the 3 key questions.

C Greg predicted;

Will confidently present their lesson, however their resources or information may be rather simple. C will lecture students rather than discussing with them. This will hinder the other student’s ability to complete the test as strongly as others.

To older colleagues this probably sounds like the outcome of many teacher observations they have seen! The Lead Learners were pretty good in their part of the lesson but Greg’s resources may be of more interest to colleagues. He used similar tactics to track learning in his interview lesson-I must have liked them as we appointed him! This is from one of the groups who were asked to record their thoughts at the beginning of the lesson, after the Lead Learner input and then after sir’s section.

04

The black spot starter amused me!

05

A 3rd of the class with the plague to represent the numbers killed in England in 1348 and after.

I also like the effect graph which helped them to consider short/long term impact and positive/negative consequences. They haven’t been SPaG marked yet!

06

Beth followed Greg and gave her Lead Learners a math’s mat to help them prepare their mini-lesson. This was adapted from one shared by @PE4learning.

07

The lesson, as is usual with maths, offered a different approach to the sums that I knew and I thoroughly enjoyed the activities. The new approaches needed to problem solve fit nicely with Beth’s style as she took on this success criteria;

  1. To be able to simplify algebraic fractions.
  2. To be able to simplify algebraic fractions involving addition/subtraction.
  3. To be able to answer a problem involving increasing/decreasing and amount using multipliers.

Her expectations for her Lead Learners were; Lead learners to use their flipped learning mats as prompts to teach the other members of their group.

They are provided with some examples to discuss and I will allow them the flexibility to include other example and if they wish, to check the learning of their peers by using mini-whiteboards.

A: Will give a good explanation of the multiplier method, will use a MWB to engage with their peers. A will provide further examples and may even ask them to try one on their MWBs to check progress.

B: Will also give a good explanation of a multiplier method although I think B will do this verbally rather than with a MWB. Will be confident in giving their group more examples to try.

C: Will show them how to answer a questions rather than giving them an explanation first i.e. C will teach their group via rote learning. May not be confident in thinking up other example and may ask me for some more help/ideas.

Beth was uncannily accurate in her predictions before our favourite part of the lesson when the groups participated in Showdown, another idea gleaned from twitter. The groups ran to select questions and then the strength of the activity was that they couldn’t move on until all had showed their answer [had to shout Showdown] and then agree on the answer going on the team sheet.

08

A smashing activity that can be used in any subject.

Unfortunately I had to miss both Andrew and Hannah’s lessons last Friday as they clashed with our science interviews. Hannah has told me off but did mention that Andy had taught a really strong lesson and that she had learned a lot from observing and acting as coach.

I can see from his resources that Andy was hoping that these tactics- Strategies to push motivation;

  • Consistent use of the word ‘challenge’
  • Competition
  • Use of exam question mats to aid progression
  • Quick, snappy learning episodes for maximum engagement.

 

were going to push the 3 able boys towards their full potential.

Student A

A is really intelligent but often lacks enthusiasm and motivation to reach his potential in class, especially 6 mark questions.

It is hoped the use of the exam mats and his role of being the marker can help him understand what is needed to reach full marks.

B is a really quiet boy who does not get involved in whole class discussions, impacting on his 6 mark answers.

It is hoped by giving him the role of marker he will understand the requirements needed to gain top marks in a 6 mark question

C is another who quietly gets on with work but often misses out on key points that would get him the higher marks.

Hopefully we will see him taking control of the ‘ingredients’, and using the exam mats to help him gain full marks at the end of the lesson.

The exam mat below was designed by Andy to help with the construction of exam questions and mark schemes by the students themselves to really help them understand clearly what is needed to secure full marks on the exam questions. The students told me in the Learning Walks that they liked this approach and found it valuable. You can see Andy’s logical mind working in the slides as he builds up confidence and skills beginning with a recap and then developing the necessary approach.

09 10 11 12

The quality of the mark-scheme was then peer critiqued.

13 14

At our subject leader’s CPD meeting I began with a slide that Stephen Tierney [@Leading Learner] from St Mary’s in Blackpool [our NTEN audit partner school] sent me from his series of great teaching tips. I think it perfectly summarises what we would like to develop here and are well on our way to doing so.

15

Lesson study is certainly one method of supporting collaborative discussion, research, improvement of practice, coaching and using feedback. It’s always difficult to provide enough time under our current curriculum system but it’s a start and one that can be hopefully strengthened by involving colleagues from other schools in our new teaching school alliance.

This is my feedback from our 3 NQTs. who have completed their first lesson study cycle.

Q1 Why did you want to become involved in lesson study-I didn’t twist arms [on this occasion!]-what did you hope to get out of it?

I decided to get involved in the lesson study as I am always looking to improve and develop my teaching. I felt that stretching higher ability students was a part of my teaching that I wanted to look into in more depth. I also thought that working alongside another member of staff would bring me fresh ideas and methods that I would not otherwise come across.

Q2 Has it fulfilled your expectations? What have been the main benefits?

It has definitely benefitted me as I have changed the way I look at teaching my high ability pupils, and high ability males in particular. The main positive was the chance to sit down and discuss different strategies and ideas with a member of staff from another department  that I may not get the chance to normally. It has certainly helped improve the area I was looking to develop and will stand me in good stead. As an NQT working alongside an experienced member of staff it has also given me increased confidence in my teaching when receiving positive feedback from them regarding my lessons, giving me more belief to try new things in class.

Q3 What are the drawbacks/concerns/pitfalls-any suggestions for changing the process/advice to others?

As it has only been a limited amount of time it is hard to see whether the students will reap the benefits in the long run, hopefully they will, and I will continue to monitor their progress. Although difficult with deadlines and other needs I think more time to discuss and trial ideas with partners would be beneficial. I think a drawback is only targeting three specific pupils, as I went into the study with the intention of concentrating on the class as a whole. During observations I found myself concentrating solely on the three selected pupils, therefore missing out on showing the progress others were making.

Q4 It has only been a short study so far and you can continue in summer-where will you take it next? Explain your thinking and reasoning behind your decision and then tell me your ideas on how will you measure the impact on student learning?

I will continue to trial the ideas and strategies discussed, hopefully seeing improvement in pupils progress and assessment grades as I aim to motivate them to reach their full potential. I suppose the real impact will only come when it comes to their final GCSE grades and hopefully meeting or exceeding their target grades!

Q5 It is very early days BUT CPD is only of any use if it directly has a measurable impact on learning-have you been able to use what you have developed already to make a measureable impact on student learning [a slight marginal gain perhaps!] with 1] your lesson study, 2] Your CPD so far

CPD has had a major impact on my introduction to the school as an NQT, getting me familiar with policies and strategies that I otherwise would have had to work out for myself. Even the sharing of ideas with staff from other departments has been great and I have implemented a lot of these into my teaching and marking that I have picked up in emails, meetings and CPD sessions.

Q6 What else can we do to help your development at MCHS? I hate the statistics about teachers leaving the profession before they have taught for 5 years-be honest and tell me what have we done that works well for you, makes you feel valued, supported, developed etc. and what have you found doesn’t work or we need to re-think. You all tweet now and share your ideas [thank you!] and see ideas from all over the world-tell me some you’ve spotted that we should do to support NQTs.

Meols Cop have been fantastic in integrating me into the school, from the support and sharing of advice within the department to the helpfulness and positivity shown towards me by SLT. My development as a teacher has come on leaps and bounds and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to carry out my NQT year here. I get a real positive feel from all members of staff and this has definitely helped improve my confidence in the classroom. I was at a sharing good practice CPD in Manchester just before half term and heard the problems from a number of people and I felt lucky to be in a department and at a school where there are so many people who are willing to help with any issues or problems.

Q1 I felt that doing a lesson study would allow me to trial new ideas, collaborate and learn from my peers and would further develop my teaching in my NQT year. I also liked the ideas of working with a colleague from a different department, as they can provide another viewpoint on teaching and learning techniques. 

Q2 I have found it similar to the opportunities we were given on our PGCE to really test new ideas to improve pupils’ learning and understanding. Using the study has certainly fulfilled a number expectations I had, especially utilising higher ability pupils within the classroom, as Lead Learners or through a version of flipped learning. Working with Beth was particularly beneficial, as it allowed us to bounce ideas off each other and work out a way that Lead Learners could be used across departments. 

Q3 Try to be as flexible as possible, I eventually ended up changing my mind on what I wanted to do and achieve right up until the week before – this came through issues I have found within my teaching that raised questions. 

Take risks! A great supportive environment in lesson study and should use the opportunity further.

Q4 I am thinking of taking my lesson study towards using peer teaching in high ability students, and further comparison with middle/lower ability. This could be through flipped learning or other techniques I will research.

Q5 I have found using lead learners within the classroom has been particularly beneficial as a result of my lesson study. Even the lesson study itself introduced activities and T&L tips that I found useful to develop my teaching. 

Q6 I would like more of a focus on teaching and learning, I have found even the informal chats with you and my other NQTs about T&L as informative as some training sessions. Leading on from this, I would like more ideas sharing – we do this on twitter etc. but I think having an opportunity for us to bring resources and share best practice with our colleagues. This could be once monthly, where NQTs have to bring 4/5 ideas they have tried and like, bit like an ideas swap/shop.

Best ideas I have seen/used recently;

  • Using SOLO hexagons across note making, source analysis and consolidation
  • Challenge Grid as a plenary

 

Ideas I want to try:

  • A variety RAG123 marking within my lessons. 
  • Explode a question – Want to use this with Y9 pupils to develop their exam question skills and preparation
  • Creating assessment planning sheets for KS3

 

Blooms Lollypop Sticks

Q1: Great way to observe staff from other subject areas and trial ideas that can be applied across the board. Also nice way to see how the same class (or similar classes) behave in other subjects. I enjoy reading and looking into research so it was nice to carry out some research myself.

Q2: Really enjoyed it, seen some ideas from Greg that I will definitely be trialling myself and the lead learner task proved to be beneficial. The students enjoyed it and it will be something that I try again.

Q3: Only drawback is that it took take up time planning and writing up in an already very busy year, but the benefits far out way this drawback.

Q4: Maybe develop the flip learning idea further, next time consider giving task to whole class and observe how they cope with learning via a video from home.

Q5: The general idea of lead leaners came from me and Greg wanting to push high ability students in year 7, however I think the study has made me aware of pushing the more able students in all classes via challenges and problem solving activities (this is a key aspect of the new GCSE and is something I am focussing on at the moment)

Q6: Well supported through my targeted areas of peer-assessment and teacher feedback which I decided was a need at the start of the year. This support has been via observations of other staff, NQT training meetings, discussions with staff, the sharing of ideas across the school via the blog. All of these things have really helped me to develop these two key areas and I feel much more confident to trial new ideas and take risks than I felt at the start of my NQT year. The support and praise from other staff has been phenomenal and I do feel valued and confident in my role at the school.

Areas for support: how to cope better with the workload so that I can spend more time planning great lessons!

You said-I did!

Andy mentioned the method NTEN suggested of focusing on 3 students when you plan, observe and feedback. I understand where he is coming from and was wary myself when I first introduced the methodology to our first cohort of staff. I’m sure that others were too but we found that the whole process of collaborative planning, deeper discussions and planning for predicted and actual learning impact and the ensuing conversations proved to be so valuable that the usual debate over progress that we have become use to, didn’t happen because perhaps we had found something more valuable to talk about-the progression and development of good teaching practice and its impact on learning. Of course it would be impossible to plan and observe so deeply for all of the students in a class so we’ll keep it to 3 for these observations-we still have our other developmental observations  with a whole class focus and to be honest our notion of what we actually mean by ‘progress’ is under constant revision. I’m certain that our NQTs were told at college that they should deliver learning progress in a lesson or in learning episodes and I would be being dishonest if I said that we hadn’t played Ofsted style ‘progress checks’ here-things are moving on though and we will discuss ‘progress’ at our May inset, having warmed up the subject leaders with Willingham, interleaving, making it stick and doses of Coe and Sutton to consider what learning should be looking like and how we can best plan our schemes of learning and teaching to best support it. Evidence informed practice from now on!

Greg raised his interest in having monthly sessions where the NQTs can meet and share teaching ideas outside of their current meetings/directed time meeting schedule. Any suggested opportunities to share ideas are always music to my ears but I explained to Greg that I can only direct colleagues to 1 hour of meetings each week [and none if there is a parent’s evening] and whilst occasionally I have voluntary meetings for interested colleagues to attend perhaps research reading etc. I am reluctant to push too many because I may run the risk of overloading colleagues and some might rightly raise the question of how ‘voluntary’ are meetings the deputy organises! Many colleagues organise their own meetings to discuss whatever they want to and the NQTs can do the same-I’ll gladly provide chocolate and come along! The three respondents have all involved themselves with sharing ideas and gaining them from twitter and I can’t stress the value, if you can find a little bit of time, in joining in social media for professional purposes. I will deliberately share this post with twitter names attached to the images so that the teacher gets the credit and hopefully meets and develops new CPD links with colleagues from all over the world.

Some schools, of course, aren’t bound by these constraints and the original advice from NTEN re lesson study relies heavily on voluntary meetings-I have to work additional meeting time into our ‘directed’ schedule to support lesson study-I feel that it is worth it but this leads directly onto points that Beth raised re workload and time taken to plan. The NQT year is probably the hardest year in terms of workload and it’s certainly a shock to the system following student life and the need to meet all of the expectations that a new career brings is a tough one. I can never promise that NQTs probably won’t get very tired, meet a few new bugs and viruses and experience a whole range of emotions BUT they must never get to the point of desperation over anything-my advice is-

“Talk to your mentors, talk to colleagues whose opinions you trust and value and seek support. We watch you like hawks to detect any signs of stress/upset but sometimes miss them. A few words with an experienced colleague can help with priorities-sometimes things that seem all important-just aren’t in comparison to your well-being.

We are trying our best to think of the most effective strategies that will save planning and marking time and to share them out so all can benefit. What is important though is that all of our NQTs do try to continue to enjoy their activities outside of school, eat well, sleep well and make the most of any breaks that come your way. Teaching is the best career in the world but your health, happiness and family must always come first.”

Autumnal Hues

For most teachers, the autumn term leading to the short days and worsening weather of winter, is hard work and the aspirations and hopes of the beginning of term, are a distant memory. The complexities and challenges of school life act out as we relentlessly cajole and nudge the mind-sets of the students towards hard work and learning progress [the same thing?] and school leaders embark on observations, book monitoring and general accountability analysis and evaluation. Our students need to be learning well, our teachers teaching well, our support staff supporting well and our leaders leading well-simples! Older teachers and staff may think that the pressure is far greater these days and the pace non-stop and unforgiving. Younger colleagues know no difference but for both workload, well-being and work-life balance are crucial and we are constantly trying to ensure that we get them right with planning, marking, collaborative support and much more being discussed to ensure that we look after our staff so that everyone is in the healthiest body and mind possible to support student learning and each other. With 100 staff, this isn’t easy and each and every one of us has a commitment to our school and students and to each other too. It’s an aspect of leadership that has always interested me [out of school too in my sporting interests]-how do we get the most out colleagues? Motivating and engaging other adults, sharing a vision and getting them to ‘buy in’, sometimes having to have difficult conversations, always trying to minimalize necessary workload without causing inefficiency, the constant pressure of being a ‘role model’!-hard work being a leader of any pay-scale BUT autumnal hues within school bring so much colour and different characteristics when you seek out the wonderfully positive aspects that leap out of the classrooms!

Observations began last week and for the first time ever we have just over half of our teaching staff involved in a lesson study project of their choice with the others ‘enjoying’ a line-manager developmental observation. I missed the first one due to it clashing with one of my lessons but Jen wandered down the corridor to call in on Janette and I enjoyed reading the feedback. Just 1 section below and then the final observer comments.

 

Subject chosen pedagogy Observer feedback comments to support development.How did each chosen strategy impact on learning? Anything you spotted for future dept advice? Teacher view-did your teaching of each priority meet your predicted outcome and impact on student learning? Did you have to change tactics?
GCSE questions 

Students are challenge above and beyond.

 

 

Students were presented with common GCSE Pythagoras questions that increased in difficulty. It is clear that from your previous lessons students have understood the necessary processes for this task. This task met your objective in preparing students to practice GCSE questions and develop the ability to attain full marks for these questions. Not one student (from what I could see) just wrote the answer, following the mark scheme exactly. ALL students in the class worked well and were eager to get started. 

I spoke to a number of students on what they enjoyed in your lessons and this was followed by the answers ‘Miss explains things really well and if we’re stuck we look at other examples to help understand’.

 

It was evident during this lesson you’ve built a classroom that builds confidence in students and tackles student resilience for challenging tasks.

 

This is a great task that could be adapted to build maths oracy skills? 

You explained your next steps for pushing students further and looking at Pythagoras in 3D which is great to push the class to beat their targets and work on a grade B task.

 

You discussed how A surprised you during this task and how well she handled the work.

 

 

3 bits of great teaching that inspired and that you are definitely going to use tomorrow! Your favourite piece of student learning-best penny dropping moment-what and with whom! What did you learn most as a teacher from today’s observation?
  • Great use of mark schemes!
  • Peer assessment comments from the girls and leaving this task open for students to identify issues.

 

 

 

  • B ‘1.2² = 2.4’ Your interaction between B and then the class was excellent. Relaxed learning atmosphere addressing misconceptions.
  • C (so a telly that is 52” is across the hypotenuse …’oh!!!’
  • D discussing how to handle Pythagoras on a coordinate grid.
Loved E’s response to ‘what do you like about Miss Ashton’s teaching? His response ‘Her personality!’ Loved this.

 

I wasn’t going to let our NQTs join in lesson study as yet because they have enough to be planning and thinking about in the hectic first year of teaching. They joined in regardless and hopefully will see how useful the method is in helping them [and all teachers] to collaboratively plan, reflect together, trial, consider impact and adapt-great teaching qualities! Last year much of the lesson study CPD was aimed towards our lowest ability learners-this time, early plans show that the emphasis has changed with colleagues wishing to consider enquiry questions to support high attainers. Beth and Greg paired up; to assess strategies to further engage higher ability learners in the classroom through the use of the ‘Lead Learner’ role.

01

They chose 6 students currently showing great ability in maths and history and gave them the opportunity to become ‘Lead Learners’. 3 of the students were chosen to observe and one was one of our asperger’s students to add an extra dimension to the study. Greg gave out his instructions to his leaders at the beginning of his lesson on ‘Who Should Be King [1065-6]’ and the leaders were primed to lead group discussions and conclude with a speech.

 

02 03 04

Beth and I observed and it quickly became apparent that Greg’s predictions weren’t going as expected. A did take the role very seriously and often stood up to assume control, pointing at group members in turn to elicit responses. They weren’t quite as dominating as Greg thought [although they were in the maths lesson!] whilst B tended to sit back and let their group get on with it rather than delegate. C was a revelation and I’d sign them up now as a potential teacher here! They delegated, supported, checked understanding-you name it-they did it! My overall feedback follows.

I predict that A will dominate the conversation here and rather than pulling ideas together, they will merely use his own

I predict that B will really lead their team and ask for their input before making a decision

I predict that C will discuss with other pupils but may struggle on making a decision without support from their peers.

I predict A will be confident in delegating out roles but may struggle in offering support as they will ‘tell’ pupils what is right.

I think that B will give out roles and will allow pupils the chance to collaborate whilst ensuring they complete their work.

I predict that C will allow pupils to complete the work themselves, and then ask to contribute at the end

 

We discussed my advice afterwards and the main things about the lesson were to;

Teach as normal with the knowledge [kingship connect to prior Roman learning]/questioning aspects-don’t miss any learning opportunities in a haste to cut to the lesson study part.

You might wish to brief the leaders before-think Beth is doing-interesting to ask the kids if this helps them more or not.

Seek group-work ground rules before you begin your first group-work-their ideas-then add a couple and roll them out every time you do group-work. Division of tasks/group roles impt

Similarly, whole class discussion of skills a good group-work leader should possess [all will have a go over the year] may help too

Swop their groups next time-focus the questionnaire on how much their experience today helped them in Beth’s lesson, did being briefed before the lesson help or not, did the group dynamics [change of group members] change their leadership style and so on

Hope this helps

I was interested to see if B had found their group too domineering, whether C could lead any group in the same fashion and how A would cope with a less subservient group. What did the student leaders think?

Post Lesson Questionnaire

Name:
What did you learn in the lesson?
What did you think of your role as Lead Learner? Did you enjoy it?
What worked in your role as Lead Learner?
What didn’t work in your role as Lead Learner?
Did this role provide a challenge for you?
Would like you to take this role again?
What would you change about the role of Lead Learner?

 

Beth ‘flipped’ her learning with the 6 lead learners giving them information to take home and prepare to teach to their groups. She began by checking they had ‘got it’ before giving them a task card to help them. [Very bravely filming herself using the IRIS cameras!]

Starter:Whilst other pupils are completing their 5 a-day, I will speak to lead learners. I will check their knowledge of algebraic fractions (They have asked to complete some reading of this topic prior to the lesson) They will be presented with a task card, and told that they can teach the other members of their group in whatever way they choose.

Lead learners will return to their seats and we will discuss 5 a-day as a class.

B: Will be quietly confident in their knowledge of how to simplify algebraic fractions. 

A: Will be very confident in their knowledge of how to simplify algebraic fractions. May feel nervous about teaching other pupils, and could ask what they can use to teach other pupils.

 

C: Will be confident in their knowledge of algebraic fractions. Will appear keen to teach the other members of her group.

ActivityLead learners to use their task cards as prompts to teach the other pupils in their group firstly what an algebraic fraction is, and how to simplify algebraic fractions.

They are provided with some examples to discuss.

 

 

B: Will give a quick explanation of an algebraic fraction. Will show examples on the task card and will tell other pupils in their group how to do each one. 

A: Will be very vocal and articulate in their explanation of an algebraic fractions, will give examples of algebraic fractions. They will show examples of fractions that can be simplified and tell pupils how to do each one with an explanation of why.

 

C: Will give a good explanation of an algebraic fraction. Will then talk through examples given. Explaining how to simplify each one and asking for input from other group members.

05

The card was a great idea and helped the leaders in different ways. B passed it round and again took a back seat whilst the other 2 followed the routine. This time A, obviously in a subject where they felt very confident, did get a little impatient if their group didn’t understand quickly and kept the hard question cards for themselves, despite a couple of group members offering to have a go at them. C again led magnificently and democratically!

The group taught was 7 set 1 so I expect to see some high flying history and maths. Beth was telling me that there are a few level 6 primary mathematicians in the group-the NTEN study may provide some of the stimulus for ideas to push them towards platinum assessment skills and regardless of the lesson study element, I observed great maths discussion and thinking throughout. I always like ‘Beat the Teacher’ that the maths teachers play-showing sums the teacher has completed and the students check them to see if there are mistakes.

 

06

Beth and Greg will meet to feedback to each other and plan their next lessons together. It was great for me to see 2 new to the profession teachers thinking about their practice and learning from what was happening. I’ve observed both of them in an ‘ordinary’ lesson but the lesson study format gives far more depth to their learning of a new craft and to the feedback conversations. I’m pleased that they chose the development of able students in lessons-the days of giving students a couple of extra questions when they have finished, is long gone and I’m interested to see where their ideas take them. The big questions around this type of trial usually include; does using the students  as ‘teachers’ prove to be more effective than teacher only led lessons, would the teacher using whole class instruction prove more effective than groups of flipped learning and so on. I suggested that Beth might try a flipped learning exercise with all of the class for homework and then try it in the conventional way of setting tasks that rely on utilising the newly acquired knowledge-students finding it difficult can be supported by Miss-those moving on quickly can have extension tasks.

I also suggested further questionnaires aimed at the whole class and their perceptions of what student leadership should look like in practice and suggestions as to how they would like it to be used in future-when would it be most appropriate to learn in this way. I do wonder whether B’s might appeal more than our preferred leadership style of C! Both teachers can now see that should they decide to use group-work/student leadership; there are so many teaching skills involved in supporting the processes-they are student skills which need careful teaching to make the most of them.

Alex had a very different class to Beth and Greg’s when Jen and I observed her teaching decimals to a very low ability year 10 class. A couple of years ago when teachers planned lessons they use to have a space for planning activities for gifted and talented students-these were usually only completed then they had the highest sets-it was a way of keeping Ofsted happy in the main part! I expect to see challenging activities and the opportunity to lead/support others in classes of all abilities and was delighted that Alex had planned for her leading mathematicians to be active in helping their table and Alex told me that the students love being able to do this. I was surprised at how difficult many of the class found some of the concepts and Miss used real life examples such as her own car’s dashboard and measuring each other to find out the class height chart.

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Using an idea Clair brought back from a meeting she finished the lesson by giving each student a card with a question on it-you can see the instructions below. This was really interesting [I know I’ve knocked the T off different!] to watch them trying not to cheat! This is an activity that can easily be adapted for any subject. The students began to write out their own similar questions to be placed in Miss’s Pot Luck bag for the start of the next lesson.

 

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It’s the first time I’ve seen the new G.C.S.E grade criteria appear on learning objectives and Clair, as usual, pushed the students hard with some challenging questions on ‘real life’ maths and an excellent rally coach which took some time for them to master. Our post-lesson feedback discussion focused on marking in general and this went to all teaching staff for internal discussion-this is just a very brief picture of the lesson for once!

 

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Josie worked on her KS4 classes in art in last year’s lesson study. This time Katy and I observed Miss teaching textiles to year 10. Josie had focused on sewing machine skills, as she explained on her lesson plan.

Is there an area of their learning/your teaching that you have found to be challenging?
I have found this class lack a basic understanding of sewing techniques, which has meant that I have needed to spend the first part of the G.C.S.E. course covering the basics of sewing and design.

 

Getting your skates on! Which is the biggest anticipated risk/chance of failure you have planned to take in the lesson? How can we help?
The anticipated risk for this lesson, is the use of sewing machines. Having worked with this class for several weeks, it is clear confidence on sewing machines is low and needs to be improved before starting the controlled assessment.

 

I observed Rachael in summer use a you tube video she had made herself to talk the students through an art skill and Josie had photographed herself modelling the sewing techniques the girls needed. This was on the IWB and on paper for them to follow and check.

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This worked really well, although I’m not an expert on sewing techniques! Josie finished her lesson with a nice Progress Pyramid to allow reflection on the skill progression.

 

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I’ll come back to the ‘great teaching’ conversations faculties had [mentioned in previous blog] but just wanted to share a couple of PE Magic Moments they shared with me. I was absolutely delighted to see this photo of their office with each person’s CPD focus for the term clearly shared.

 

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PE and written marking haven’t always sat comfortably with each other! BUT Tom and Sam have worked really hard to encourage the development of WRITTEN marking/feedback strategies to support the theory element of G.C.S.E. PE. I liked Rosie’s dance ingredient revision help and her PEER marking used with her year 11 class.

 

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A simple enough DIRT answer but the key is that the teacher checked that ‘Evidence Successfully Met’ and DIRT was used to support the feedback.

Leon went to the SSAT NW information session in Macclesfield this week and I was surprised to hear that of the 30 plus schools there, only Meols Cop was trying something different in response to ‘assessment without levels’. From trawls of twitter/blogs I keep an up-date across the country and staff have seen regular ideas from Durrington and Chew with their similar [ish] approach and from our friends at St Mary’s in Blackpool who are discussing their move. Most seem to be playing a waiting game and I explained internally why I felt that we should use the opportunity, coinciding with the new NC and changing G.C.S.E to go backwards in terms of thinking about the skills and knowledge we want our students in each subject to possess to gain an ability appropriate mastery-then planning schemes of learning and assessment that fitted our needs. Of course whatever any school comes up with isn’t that different to levels [minus sub levels I would think!] and the proposals for KS1/2 performance indicators have angered many. The discussions that have taken part in every corner of school and our approach of encouraging flexibility and adaptability as we develop our BSG ideas are great aspects of professional development for all of us, especially our leaders! Parents and students have seemingly agreed and liked BSG so far but the progress reports will provide the first ‘customer satisfaction’ check and we may have to re-think. [Hopefully not too much!]Maths have already changed and it’s important that nothing is set in stone and imposed whilst this crucial aspect of learning and teaching is developed in the classroom and then evaluated by all concerned. If it doesn’t work-change it!

My Magic Moment from the twilight inset session on assessment last week was to see RE developing a practical aspect of ‘progress measuring’ on their parental progress reports. I know there is lots of cutting and pasting of G.C.S.E grade descriptors/NC old levels that goes on to help create the new system, and that’s a sensible method provided that it fits 2014 and beyond needs. RE, and most other subjects, are always concerned with the students’ ability to answer 6,8,10 mark questions so I liked this from Jennie and Anne, that was shared around the staff and can be easily adapted by other subjects. Make your assessment criteria fit our student needs-this does.

Skills required to achieve target grade Emerging Developing Mastered   Not yet Covered
Exam skills.
Ability to offer a full, developed explanation and example in the 2 mark questions
Ability to offer two expanded points of view, both with religious examples and explanations in the 4 mark questions.
Ability to offer two examples with development, from both the religion of Islam and Christianity in the 6 mark questions.
Ability to offer two expanded, clear points of view with religious teachings in the 8 mark questions.  The argument is covered extensively through discussion and summed up with a final judgement.

 

Sarah and Karen have planned together in an English lesson study to consider their Enquiry Question: Can students independently employ higher order thinking skills? Sarah took first go and she wanted her class to Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose. If the students can access this higher level of thought, higher exam grades will follow. The faculty have embarked upon some radical set manoeuvres to try to provide the best support and intervention. Deliberate staffing has made smaller classes and single sex classes in a couple of cases. Sarah has a small boy only class and support is provided via Annette our pastoral AHT to help Sarah teach in a very intensive manner-digging deep, pushing hard to get the lads the grades they potentially can achieve. When Karen and I joined in, adults almost outnumbered the students!

There were some really interesting teaching strategies employed and they began with writing down who what they thought was responsible for the tragedy in Blood Brothers.

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They would return to their original thoughts a couple of times throughout the lesson to make changes, should they wish to. They then worked in 2 groups on a tarsia activity. I was pleased to see them use the blank cards to add their own ideas.

 

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Sarah chose her 3 students for the study and made her predictions for Karen and I to observe.

 

Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
  1. Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose.
Target BCurrently working at B Target BCurrently working at C Target BCurrently working at D
Stage Predicted Response Actual Response
Who or what is responsible for the tragedy? (independent) Limited, text base response that focuses on characters or theme. Character based – Mrs Lyons Theme based – superstition Character based Mrs Johnstone
Tarsia inquiry.(group)

 

 

 

Text based connections but start to link quotes to characters. All boys should be able to link quotations with characters. B should take a lead role in discussion and might focus more on themes/begin to explore writer’s implications.  C will make straightforward obvious links between quotes and characters. Remained quit during this activity and let D take a lead role in organising the shapes. Did contribute links that probed the sub text and knowledge of the play as a whole was secure. Focused on character motivation. Started to explore the ‘bigger’ picture from D’s comments about the impact Mr Johnstone’s departure had on Mrs J and her decision to give Edward away. He also let D take a lead role in organising the shapes. Did contribute links that probed the sub text and knowledge of the play as a whole was secure. Focused on character motivation. Started to explore the ‘bigger’ picture from D’s comments about the impact Mr Johnstone’s departure had on Mrs J and her decision to give Edward away. Immediately explored how the theme of social class was to blame and probed the sub-text confidently exploring how the policeman treated the two families differently because of their social class. Took a lead role in the discussion and effectively justified opinions with evidence/reasons from the text.
Ten quote tumble.(independent)

 

Begin to make moral / social links C might struggle here to make relevant links. B and A should be identifying the writer’s intention and linking quotes to the wider implications. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of jealousy and started to make links to social injustice – difference in lifestyle, education and job opportunities. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of jealousy and started to make links to social injustice – difference in lifestyle, education and job opportunities. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of inequality and started to make links to social injustice – difference how the boys were treated by the policeman because of their different social classes.

 

They then worked individually to select and prioritise quotes to support their opinions before discussing in pairs and then preparing for their final individual piece-could they move beyond the text to think about Russell’s wider motives in writing the play? The students peer critiqued and highlighted positive examples of what Miss had asked for!

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Karen being an optimistic soul and progress manager for year 11, believed that the students were capable of this level of thought-Sarah wasn’t so sure! This was her summary;

Dave and Karen, now I have had the opportunity to read their work, I am pleased with the progress on the whole. They knew the novel well and considering we haven’t looked at it together for a while, that was great. They linked characters to themes effectively and justified their opinions.

 

In terms of LOs –

  • LO: Independently employ higher order thinking skills – they all achieved this.
  • LO: Effectively communicate a point of view – they all achieved this.
  • LO: Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose- Owen Fowler made the best connection – poverty and job loss in Liverpool at the time. The others began to connect ideas to characters, themes and the bigger picture but often in term of social injustice.

Karen, thanks for being so optimistic as this meant I didn’t have to use the model answer slides!

Excellent knowledge of text.  Did move on from a character answer and started to explore the wider implications of social class and the effects of being working class at that time. Secure knowledge of the text. Moved from a theme based answer and started to link social injustice of working class Liverpool to lifestyle and its limitations. Effectively moved from a character answer to a theme and linked this to social injustice effectively justifying his answer from the policeman’s behaviour towards the two different social classes.

 

Both colleagues hadn’t been involved before in lesson study, Sarah joining us at Easter and hopefully they will be able to see the value in this form of CPD as they plan and consider their next moves. They are both keen to transfer the skills taught today [and tomorrow for Karen] after Xmas when the students begin another text.

Zoe and Sheila worked together in a lesson study triad in summer and this time they paired up to continue their work with low ability year 7 and 8 mathematicians. Enquiry Question – How effectively can we improve conceptual understanding of operations with Low Attainers?

Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
  1. All students should be able to describe each operation using at least a keyword.
  2. Students will begin to identify the required operation for worded questions, with reasons.
  3. Students will show appropriate methods to carry out such operations.
Easily distracted and loses focus. Will attempt to answer questions even if he is not confident, but has weak problem solving skills. Strongest in multiplication tables knowledge, weakness with division and subtraction. Low confidence, reluctant to answer questions he is uncertain of the answers to. Comfortable with addition methods and certain multiplication tables knowledge but weaknesses in division and subtraction methods. 

 

Comfortable attempting most questions but weaknesses in multiplication tables knowledge, and poor consistency across division, subtraction and multiplication methods.

 

This was the first lesson looking at operations with the class so that Zoe could see how they could cope with what was needed. She used the overlay the lesson study maths triad had produced last year to see if that would help the students with functional skills type questions. To get them use to the maths literacy involved she asked them to describe the key words.

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They then tackled up to 10 problems around the room by following the method suggested on the overlay.

 

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Some students were able to get all of the functional skills problems correct but not necessarily by using the overlay. We aren’t sure that this works for all and Zoe is thinking about alternative tactics. The level of ability was very low and problems such as; “if there are 7 days in a week, how many days are there in 10 weeks?” and “if a spider has 8 legs-how many legs do 5 spiders have?” caused some issues and these were the easier ones. Zoe will teach students who will achieve good university degrees 2 minutes before teaching students who struggle with the most basic division and multiplication sums-an interesting mix and all with their own learning challenges for Miss to overcome. There is an interesting discussion re mixed ability teaching v sets/bands doing the rounds again and questions raised as to whether growth mind set fits easily with setting. I’ve taught both ways at KS3 and mixed at KS4-don’t forget though that some schools are far more mixed in their in-takes than others, as has become apparent when  digging  beneath the league table figures and looking at the percentage of high, middle and low attainers and the average KS2 scores of students coming into our schools!  Ours is the lowest average score of all the schools in Sefton and this presents us with the kind of teaching challenges lesson study can help us with so that our students get the most appropriate learning and teaching we can give them.

Karen and Sheila were busy teaching their first NTEN lesson at the same time and I wasn’t able to drop in on them as I was with Emma to observe our newest NQT Toni. Toni has already established a lovely working relationship with her year 10 geographers and they engaged well and moved sensibly around the room to find information. Our conversation afterwards was an interesting one and worth sharing-I think-because it touched on a few of the tactics I’ve seen used by lots of NQTs, especially geographers!

There does seem to be a set lesson structure that they learn on their P.G.C.S.E. course and I think that it dates back to the issue of the desire of Ofsted [which they usually deny ever existed!] of having to see progress in 1 lesson. It seems to be that some new knowledge will be gathered-usually interactively by the students gathering bits from different stations around the room-they then check each other’s notes and add whatever they have missed before new knowledge is tested via an exam question/mark-scheme-hence progress is observed and measured!

Toni sensed that the students wanted to delve further into non-renewable energy and felt that a deeper discussion would have been better-at this point we talked about the lesson structure she is use to and I hope that she was relieved that I told her to forget about it-absolutely no need to cram everything into 1 lesson with a test at the end to show me that progress is being made. Lots of great opportunities are missed for Miss to develop her teaching so we thought about;

  • This could be a lesson study on its own but over the next term and year, find out which are the best methods for you and your classes to make notes [find out new information] and to retain it-is this method the best?
  • It might be if we refine the gathering of information process or other methods [I’m not getting involved in the text book debate!] may prove to be more effective. If we use the information gathering around the room method we have to stop them simply copying everything they can-it’s good to encourage note-taking but it is a skill we have to teach. When they check their notes afterwards with their partner, the temptation to copy everything that they haven’t got-occurs again!
  • If you are doing this for the sake of showing ‘student interaction’-think what interaction actually means in the learning situation-for me it is the student reacting with the knowledge or skills to cause a ‘learning’ effect. Make the students cut to the chase in activities like this-use a word limit, time limit, 1 sentence. They will find it tough to begin with but will soon begin to select relevant information and if in the pair follow up they both ‘black-out’ any irrelevant information-they will learn vital examination skills-how many times do they write waffle and waste time?
  • No need to show progress with a test every time-let them have the deeper discussion-they will probably recall more information over time by having memorable current examples and data.
  • I thank Toni for letting me share our discussion-if this sounds like it didn’t go well-it did BUT she is eager to develop into the best teacher that she can be and lifting a few P.G.C.S.E. shackles and letting her experiment will support that. I’m delighted with the progress our NQTs are making and will soon have them all tweeting out their ideas and sharing their own ideas both internally and externally!

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading a Reflective Science Faculty

The blog this week is one that I originally wrote in July after a request from the SSAT Leading Edge partnership to contribute an article to the autumn 2014 edition of their Leading Change magazine. The Leading Edge partnership invites schools deemed to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in Ofsted terms with rising trends of exam results [I think I’ve got that bit right!] to join in their group of schools to share ideas and support each other. I contributed an article on peer critique [peer verification] when we were invited to join and they contacted us last summer to ask if we could write something on our ‘reflective science faculty’ I’m not sure why they asked or how they came to think that our scientists might be reflective-I just write this stuff! Our scientists are busy teaching and being reflective so I wrote up some of the ideas that I am aware of via my observations and CPD discussions with them all. I can’t quite recreate the ‘glossy’ nature of the magazine but here is the original draft and a few links to other science based blogs. The pace of school moves so quickly! Re-reading this a couple of months on actually gave me a chance to reflect myself on some of the key issues covered-the development of our professional portfolio, NTEN lesson study and CPD in general-and to think again about the opening slide [below] at our subject leaders meeting last night [and raised in our last blog]. The science faculty is a vibrant place to work and learn-I hope this is a true reflection of our whole school! In last week’s Sutton Report, Dr Lee Elliot Major wrote that; ‘It’s a scandal that we are so concerned with the learning of pupils, yet neglect the professional development of teachers themselves’. This cannot happen here and hopefully in the article you will see that we are moving rapidly towards; and are totally supportive of the TDA’s view of CPD, as outlined by David Weston.

“For CPD to be effective, it should be teacher-led and targeted at supporting student needs in a teacher’s own classroom, helping them to thrive and improve year-on-year.  Effective CPD is possible and can be realised within a teaching community that is based on collaboration, sharing of best practice and using evidence effectively. Our research demonstrates a desire for professional development that engages teachers and ensures impact”

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Reflective Scientists

How many times over the last couple of years have you been told that- “being a reflective practitioner `is good for your CPD”? Lost count? It may well be but- what it actually means in practice in different schools and with different individuals is open to much debate. For our developing teachers in their second year of teaching, our professional portfolio aims to guide them towards the skills and professional development appropriate to their experience and aims to celebrate their own learning and teaching successes-we cannot as a profession continue to lose potentially great teachers and leaders-this is one of our ways to ensure this doesn’t happen. Below are 4 of our key drivers for individual contributions to whole school great quality of teaching for ‘developing’ or ‘emerging’ teachers. NQTs, subject leaders and progress managers have their own criteria but you can clearly see how we are trying to create an ethos of reflection, collaboration and aspiration in every teacher and every faculty.

Key QT driver Developing Developed Aspirational
Lesson observations Two formal lesson obs every year [unless others are required] with feedback given-1 with the line-manager and one peer. Triads in most cases. Mixture of classes observed-examples please. What were the key criteria points for exceptional teaching that was chosen? Which predicted learning outcomes were different than you expected-why? Advice given has been acted on-examples please. What was the biggest risk you took in your lesson obs? What happened! Lesson plan produced –all key areas verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill development based on advice from the last observation and have met the appraisal targets.Which areas of the subject specific criteria that you are weakest at, have you been working on-any measured impact yet? Which areas of your teaching skills do you want to focus on next year?Are there any types of classes, students that you will meet that will bring a new challenge? How can we help?
CPD Which learning hubs have you attended? What did you trial after the hubs? Which other internal training have you attended? What were the key learning points from this training? Which external training have you attended? What were the key learning points from this training? How have you used research to support your own development?Please give examples.Why did you choose to research these areas?Which CPD activities have had the biggest impact on learning in your classroom? What is your evidence? What would you like next in terms of internal/external CPD?What would your priority be and why?
Collaboration-learning Which lessons have you informally observed? What did you hope to gain from these obs? What were the key learning points you gathered from these? Which target groups did you aim your hub resources/ideas at? Why? Which ideas/resources have you ‘borrowed’ from colleagues and who did you target them at/why? What did you try out in your lessons as a result of informal lesson obs?What was the impact on learning and how did you measure it?What was the impact on learning in your lessons of any hub/borrowed ideas? What is your evidence? Any specific groups/cohorts of learners?Have you managed to share any of your ideas in any forum? How will you take your lesson study forward to develop your ideas further? Which aspects of our collaborative work do you need support with or need more of?
Collaboration-teaching Have you contributed to any of the FOCALS when we have discussed generic teaching issues? E.g.?Have you contributed to dept meetings when learning and teaching is discussed? E.g.?Have you been in involved with joint planning of lessons? Have you contributed ideas to the dept SEF?If a colleague has been having difficulties/concerns with a class-have you been able to offer advice and support? Have you sought help and advice when it was needed? For each of the examples you chose; how did your intervention make an impact on the teaching of others or yourself? How do you know? How did this then impact on student learning? How would you like to develop your contribution to the discussion and support of ‘teaching’?

 

We are keen to develop our teachers to consider their own classroom based research and to measure the impact of trialled ideas on an area of practice that was self-evaluated as a weakness either of student learning or pedagogy. When I read about lesson study early in the school year it seemed not only to fit in with our move away from graded observations towards developmental feedback for informal or formal peer observations BUT decisively offered an opportunity to enhance further the depth of teacher feedback focusing on the impact of the teaching on student learning.

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Joe, Rachael, Hannah and Holly all 2nd year developing teachers and scientists have volunteered to take part this year.  Joe and Rachael chose as their enquiry question “would a new tactic [focusing on command words and reading of the question] improve the G.C.S.E. students 6 mark question answers?” They planned together, observed as each other taught and then discussed the impact their teaching had had on just 3 students who were chosen to focus on. This was a different idea than used previously and the planning, unusually at this point, involved predicting how each student [you can see in the feedback examples why 3 was enough!] would respond to the various teaching episodes. Their actual response was noted by the observer and formed the deep learning feedback that followed. A new method of analysing exam questions was introduced and the students tested before and after the dissecting of the command words.

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Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
  1. Student will show improvement to mark in exam question during lesson.
  2. Student will have more confidence in answering extended answer questions.
  3. Student will perform better on exam on Friday 8th November.
2 grades below targetEoY 10 Target BEoY 11 Target A 2 grades below targetEoY 10 Target AEoY 11 Target A* 2 grades below targetEoY 10 Target BEoY 11 Target A 

 

Stage Predicted Response Actual Response
1 Starter – Exam Words Students will be able to name some simple exam words. Listed over 8 different examples. Listed 7 different examples. Listed 4 simple words.
2 Six mark exam question Students will write a low level answer, scoring between 0-2marks. Scored 1/6Didn’t read the exam question properly.  Slow to start, scored 2/6.Didn’t read the exam question properly. Scored 2/6.Didn’t read the exam question properly. 
3 Exam words – which is higher level pyramid activity Students will have different ideas as to which command word requires more detail in their answer. Worked in a pair, discussed the command words. Identified which words were high level. Placed words in different arrangements. Identified low level command words.   Discussed with peers meanings of other words.

 

You can see the changes in the individual student responses in these photos taken before, during and after the lesson study.

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As the lesson study developed, the initial planning and feedback increased in detail. Hannah and Holly, with the same general issue in mind, focused on year 7 with this question;  How can we improve the understanding of the command words describe and explain  [and the use of correct connectives]to allow middle achieving year 7 boys to improve the quality of their answers and peer critique?  The class warmed up with describe and explain un-related exercises before a card-sort activity placing definitions next to key words in preparation for a written activity and peer critique. The lesson finished with a return to the original exercise to see if an improvement had been made.

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Peer assess2.40 – 2.48Students will then use a generalised mark scheme to peer assess, this will be to test if the 3 chosen students can identify the difference between describe and explain when marking somebodies answer. They mark scheme makes it clear what is expected without giving answers.  This also allows these students to see other students work for ideas on how to improve their own. A: Will mark accurately but feedback can sometimes be limited, from this point in the lesson I expect the penny to drop for A of what is expected from the describe/explain questions.B: will be slow to start and will focus on SPaG marking. He will need encouragement to complete the marking.   He will realise at this point exactly what he had been doing incorrectly beforehand.C: will give detailed feedback of what was done well but limited feedback on what needs to be done to improve.   Encouragement/ guidance may be needed. A marked his partner’s work well and spotted that his peer needed to include more scientific key words, but when giving an example of those key words he used a connective. B identified that his partner had not described the trend correctly but he was unable to give an example of how to improve. C The feedback he gave was limited.   The praise was accurate but in the EBI and example he confused key words for being connectives.
Improve:2.48 – 2.54Students will then improve their answer using blue pen to increase the number of marks. All students will manage to improve to gain marks at this stage but this may not be enough for full marks. A improved his work massively at this point. However he missed the scientific key words until he was prompted.  His peer assessor had not mentioned key words in the feedback they gave him. B worked slowly to improve. He used the correct science verbally to explain but he worked to slow to write his explain answer down. C improved but with no use of scientific key words even after prompting, through verbally dialogue he displayed an understanding of the science however.

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Just a small example of the predicted/actual feedback discussion gives a quick indication of the level of the deeper learning conversation that followed. All teachers involved plan and observe each other twice [although the trial of ideas continues and we will return to it] and the NTEN lesson study observations replaced the normal formal appraisal observation for the volunteers. [I’m involved as the other observer/coach!] In autumn and winter next year, we would hope to have involved all colleagues in the project-it has proved extremely popular and time to plan and feedback will be built into directed time meetings and inset. Colleagues involved shared their work in a market place activity and you can see Rachael entertaining her most difficult visitors on the market rota-the science faculty!

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Our other peer lesson observations are not unsimilar in that the feedback [no grades] involves a discussion of the chosen criteria and a predicted/actual impact on learning before the observors select their favourite observed strategies and offer advice. ‘Magic Moments’ spotted during the observations, both formal and informal are shared in our internal blog/external blog for others to see and adapt if they so wish All staff are involved in our rota of sharing-no volunteers or opting out and the reflective practice of our young scientists goes out to the whole world to look at. Both Hannah and Rachael have received retweets, favorites and requests for their ideas and whilst recognition of a good idea is nice, professionally if you know that ideas and resources will be shared; you might just make sure that they’re pretty damn good to start with! The faculty shared their ‘fast feedback’ marking recently and 1000 interested people from elsewhere have already visited the post.

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=1187

Hannah’s differentiated learning Mole mat for her high ability year 11 students proved to be very popular as did Rachael’s graph overlay to support peer critique with lower ability year 7 students.

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=500 last winter’s science ‘Chucklevison!’

Much as we develop our student ‘talk for learning’ so we should help to develop our teacher’s articulation of their own learning too. The reflective science faculty develops good practice inwardly and shares it confidently outwardly and its members, no matter their length of experience should be given the opportunity to develop their own CPD potential by ‘bottom-up’ leadership of training. As NQT’s Joe and Rachael led learning hubs on peer critique and recently Rachael spoke at the local Headteacher’s conference about lesson study and Holly spoke to a visiting school’s SLT.

Rachael’s presentation is at the end of our Summer Lesson Study blog which includes a more detailed account of the science lesson study example and others.

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=896

Are they ‘reflective practitioners’ and are we creating the right opportunities for self-critical reflection and the embedding and tranformation of science best practice-you decide!

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Summer Lesson Study

When I first saw David Weston’s description of the NTEN CPD audit and lesson study, I was immediately interested in the possibilities that both offered to develop key areas of our school. Other schools are now increasing the numbers of NTEN membership and there have been numerous national discussions at conferences, in educational literature and social media re what good CPD should look like and how lesson study can enhance the process of lesson observations. Culceth and Grange have visited us to speak about lesson study and Rachael Moreau spoke about her experiences at the Sefton Head’s Conference on Friday. We don’t slavishly stick to the suggested routes and planning, [at anything!] adapting and changing to fit our needs and cover/time issues but all of the staff involved have reported back positively and by next summer all of our teachers should have been involved-some filmed by the new Iris cameras-in lesson study.

Our summer lesson study has now begun in earnest and an interesting variety of enquiry questions has been raised by our volunteer participants. We will feedback in more detail once the reciprocal observations have occurred and colleagues have had chance to enjoy an in-depth discussion of the learning they observed. This just to whet the appetite and because I’ve been excited by what I’ve observed and can’t wait to share ideas so colleagues can borrow them NOW! Most of the studies will carry on into the autumn term and then more colleagues will be invited to participate.

Tim and Claudio [@meolscopgeeks] have been concerned that marks have been lost in G.C.S.E. ICT when the students haven’t annotated their work well enough to always convince the moderator of the quality of their screenshot. Their enquiry question was [for year 10] ‘Can students produce better annotated screen shots to relate to the work they have produced?’

1.       Students will show an improvement to the type of screenshot they produce.

2.       Students will be able to write a grammatically correct annotation that will explain what they are doing.

3.       Students should be able to relate what they are doing to a specific part of the exam revision guide.

Inspired by Adele and Katrina’s lesson study market-place selling of their literacy/peer critique mats they have developed a couple of mats to support annotation using subject specific literacy. Using internal ideas is RESEARCH! Evidence informed practice as Joes Picardo argues here http://t.co/3iUPkIvNH4 Although Claudio introduced the mat with his year 10 class they decided that they would also introduce their ideas into year 7 to prepare the students for KS4 computer science and equip them with the language necessary to enhance their ICT knowledge and skills. The year 10 students told me that they felt the mat had helped to make an immediate impact on their annotation and that they could see that its use would build up their confidence to ensure that top quality screenshots would now have much clearer and evaluative annotation.

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Claudio’s predicted learning outcomes were.

AI expect A to be able to select the correct part of a screenshot without too much help, he will struggle with the way he annotates his work but may be able to progress by adding in some context. I am not expecting him to be able to relate this to a specific place in the revision guide.End of year 11Target: C B I expect B to be able to select the correct part of a screen shot without too much help. He should be able to annotate his work with some context and relate it to a specific section of the revision guide.  End of year 11Target: C CI expect C to be able to do a screenshot and write an annotation that says what he is doing but he may need some help from the TA to produce a readable one.  End of year 11Target: B

 

Tim’s new baby rudely interrupted the process at this point-congratulations to Mr and Mrs Roberts-we will feedback on the next ICT instalment after summer.

Emma [geography] and Bronagh [Spanish] paired up and their enquiry question was;–

‘Is flipped learning an effective teaching method compared to teacher-led activities for low ability students?’

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I have explained before that we have a generous interpretation of what we mean by flipped learning Meols Cop style [a mix of flipped learning and co-construction]-the US flipped original was basically the students working at home on videos made by the teacher and following up the learning back at school whilst co-construction usually means the students being involved in the planning and delivery of the lesson. The names don’t matter to me-the learning that I observe does!  In Emma’s lesson the students had produced information themselves about different biomes and the class moved around the stations of information to gather key information from the resources and games produced by their peers rather than Miss. At the end of each rotation, the students wrote the key facts of their research onto a tweet.

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Repeat the process.

Emma predicted that;

Students will be able to tweet a lot about the biome they have researched however as they rotate the level of information recorded will decrease as they will not be as familiar with the biome;

A will scan the info and pick simple facts whereas B and C should be able to extract more complex information. Verbally they will be able to tell you this however what they write down may be limited.

This is what actually happened;

A was able to recall a lot of work on her own specific biome but as expected her level of content was limited with the others and she struggled to retain any information.

B recorded a lot of information which was more than expected. He thrived from the extra attention and praise and this aided the progress he was able to make. Also encouraging him to remember certain point helped him when writing his tweets.

C tried very hard to memorise some of the key points however focused on the shorter points and tasks rather than the more complex information. She was verbally a lot stronger and needed prompting to write anything down.

 

  1. 1.       Activity

Retweet that tweet!!

5mins

Pupils will share their tweets with another member of the class and they will post a question to ask about the information on their page and then will answer this question – encourages 

Thinking skills between peers.

All students will enjoy this activity however A may struggle with composing questions due to limited knowledge.  B and C should be able to do this successfully with limited support.  Really struggled to form a question and required support from DJ. She was working independently out of the way therefore had no support from peers which is something she will do in lessons. B created a great challenging question for his peers. He was really engaged and preceded to finding the answer to the question himself. Followed the lead of her partner and relied heavily on their ideas. Struggled to think for herself.  The question she composed was the same as her partners and not relevant to the work she was providing feedback on.

 

  

Emma tested the retention of knowledge and sought feedback at the end of the lesson.

04

Year 7 Quiz

Emma’s thoughts after the lesson in readiness for her discussion with Bronagh and myself;

What where they able to do? What progress they made and how do you know?     

 

 

 

All students were able to describe the biomes and were aware of the differences between each location. This is evident from their tweets information showing progress through the lesson.   However when asked to reflect on their learning the pupils struggled with this.  A could recall basic information but only when given support and prompt to do so, B worked really well and responded a lot better than expected. B was enthusiastic and thrived the attention to help him progress. C on the other hand did not make the progress that was expected. C s is bright however lacks confidence when completing written tasks. Verbally C performs well.
Initial thoughts      

 

 

I do not believe flipped learning has benefitted all students. A requires a firm structure and a lot of guidance and support in lesson, by allowing her to take responsibility of this she has missed key points and has been reluctant in retaining more complex information. B on the other hand thrived on the experience as he was able to see his booklet develop during previous lesson time and then share his work whilst teaching others in lesson. By letting the class take part in this activity there was more time for one to one support which benefitted B. C  on the other hand was a mixture as if the tasks had been verbal she would have excelled within the lesson but with written tasks she lacked the confidence needed which has slowed her progress.   This lesson will be completed again with a teacher led focus to compare results for the final analysis. From this I would expect A to be more responsive and show clear progression throughout the lesson.

 

Bronagh had made a slight amendment to her enquiry question-‘Is independent learning  an effective teaching method compared to teacher led actvities with low ability students?’ The students were quizzed on their knowledge of families [in Spanish] at the start of the lesson and their memory of family members check after each learning activity. They loved the teacher slide!

The class begin with a search for key family words which were hidden in secret places all around the classroom and added them to a mind map before trying to help each other learn the keywords. It was interesting to see them helping each other to make the words stick in their memories and take responsibility for helping each other.  Bronagh used a range of activities from tarsia to her envelope match up to try to support the students in reinforcing each other’s learning.

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After reflection, Bronagh felt that;

What where they able to do? What progress they made and how do you know?     At the end of the lesson A was able to recall 6 family members on her own. At the end of the lesson B appeared to move back from knowing ten family members to only recalling four. This may be due to the fact he had achieved full marks the first time and got slightly over confident when completing the second task and so lost focus. C still struggled with recalling the vocabulary she has been studying but was also able to recall four family members. 
Initial thoughts  At the end of the lesson all students agreed they did not enjoy the independent element of the lesson and preferred it to be more teacher led. A enjoys working in a group and is really good at motivating and encouraging other students due to her competitive nature. However as A has such low confidence in Spanish she does begin to lose her engagement and effort when she has to complete a task unsupported.  It appears that A prefers to have a more structured lesson which she can rely on the teacher if needed. This will be tested in the next lesson to see how much progress she will actually make in this way. As expected B really enjoyed the independent nature of the lesson and thrived at playing the role of the teacher, helping his fellow peers and encouraging them all. B did try really hard but when he began to struggle and didn’t get the results he usually achieves B lost all confidence in himself.  He agreed with everyone else that he prefers the lessons to be teacher led. This could be due to the fact he needs constant praise and encouragement to keep him on track. As well as this he would make more steady progress in a teacher led lesson through the use of scaffolding therefore he wouldn’t experience the disappointment like today. C really struggled with this lesson as she has difficulty working with her peers and independently. C is a really low ability student who needs to be guided through every step of the lesson and being left alone to complete tasks simply did not work for her. Although C did make progress I believe she would make more progress in a teacher led lesson. This will be tested next lesson.

 

I know that some reading this may be thinking that of course teacher led activities will be far better for helping the students [especially very low ability ones] than trendy progressive ideas of letting them teach each other/prepare resources that they can learn from. At this point my colleagues would probably expect me to grab my Hattie or to scour the web looking for research evidence to prove any point I wanted to make-sorry to disappoint-it ain’t going to happen! Of course we use research as evidence to inform our practice, if we get the chance to read it, BUT this is our school and our students-research doesn’t always fit all and our teachers may find that something that others find doesn’t work for them or for the majority, may work here.  So what did happen in the more teacher led lessons that followed?

I missed Emma’s lesson due to the SSAT conference and returned to Bronagh’s high energy teacher led lesson-I’m taking these little lovelies for history and geography next year and will be shattered if they expect me to sing and dance for them every lesson! We begin with the industrial revolution so they can all be my mill hands! One of the students was absent but the other two scored more than last time on the memory aspects of the lesson-I’ll let Bronagh summarise their learning, written after her feedback session with Emma.

“Overall I would say the teacher led lesson was a lot more successful than the independent learning.

As expected A did progress more in the teacher led lesson. However when it came to more independent tasks such as the memory train, she began to struggle. I do not think this is always caused by a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of confidence. When A feels she is supported she is a lot more willing to push herself and this is when she makes most progress.

B was very enthusiastic in the previous lesson but was even more so this time due to the extra reassurance and guidance he was given. As the lesson was more structured this time he could see the progress he was making clearly and was keen to continue.

Unfortunately C was absent from this lesson however I do believe she would have been more successful in this lesson than previously.

Overall I do not think independent learning is an effective teaching method compared to teacher led activities. As the students are of a low ability they need a lot more structure and guidance to their lesson which is not always possible when they are learning independently. Many of these students suffer from low confidence which is not always obvious until they are asked to do an activity like this. Due to this they need extra encouragement and praise to keep them motivated otherwise they get disheartened and disengaged from the task.

I still feel lessons need to have an independent element however this must be done in a structured manner. Students must be guided to the task and feel confident enough to complete it. I think low ability learners need to be taught how to work independently and so should complete short, similar independent tasks often to build up this skill so they are not daunted or intimidated when left to work independently”

Helen and Marion in MFL were concerned that some of their students had underperformed in the reading aspect of their assessments and devised a 6 steps to success ladder approach to support the development of improved reading skills. They planned for the following success criteria with each student;

Student will engage in the 6 steps to success strategy.

Student will show an improvement in their ability to analyse text.

Student will achieve an increased level in their reading score.

Helen found that the tactics used began to increase the student’s reading scores and will continue the trial to see if learning is retained over a period of time.

What were that they able to do?What have progress they made and how do you know? A improved his score from 3/16 to 11/16 level 4- B improved his score from 7/16 to 13/16 level 4 C got 10/16 and a level 4-

Initial Thoughts

A was really delighted with his own progress. He was almost jumping up and down whilst telling me this week’s score.  Although he did not always do every task this lesson, he was obviously listening and doing the tasks sub-consciously. The 6 steps to success worked really well with B.  He focused well during the tasks and made good progress.  He was a little nonchalant about his success this week! C contributed really well and engaged in the lesson.  He probably could have got 15/16 but ran out of steam at the end of the lesson.

Marion found pretty much the same in terms of a positive result and the success ladder can now be discussed at the faculty meetings and adapted for use by colleagues. It will need to be used by more classes and over a period of time to give a sound measure of the impact on learning.

What were that they able to do?What progress have they made and how do you know? A stayed on task better this week.  He was more focused and a little more willing to show the observer his work.  He did some of the tasks independently.  He showed progress in the reading task gaining a higher level than the previous week. B contributed quite well to class discussions today.  He remained focused on the work and helped his partner out.  He did some of the tasks independently.  He also showed progress in the reading task, gaining a higher level than the previous week. C was very engaged in the lesson and made many contributions to class discussion.  He stayed on task and worked well independently, showing a really good ability to analyse the text.  He made a massive improvement from the previous week jumping from a level 3- to 4+.

Initial Thoughts

The 6 steps to success strategy made A focus a little more in the lesson because it broke down the lesson into more engaging and manageable chunks. The 6 steps to success strategy made B focus a little more in the lesson because it broke down the lesson into more engaging and manageable chunks. The 6 steps to success strategy worked really well with C and gave him confidence in his own ability.

Fran, Sheila  and Zoe worked together with year 7 mathematicians to consider [Sheila used a mixed threesome];

Improving conceptual understanding of the four mathematical operations with quiet, low attaining girls.

Success Criteria Pupil A Pupil B Pupil C
  1. 1.       All students should be able to describe each operation using at least a keyword.
  2. 2.       Students will begin to identify the required operations for worded questions, with reasons.
  3. 3.       Students will show appropriate methods to carry out such operations.
Weak calculating skills. Poor understanding of operations. Easily distracted and loses focus. Will try to avoid answering questions she is unsure of, but will guess if necessary.EOY7 Target Level 4 Confident in answering questions and not reluctant to get answers wrong. Will often guess the correct operation to use. Has satisfactory calculation skills.EOY7 Target Level 4- Very weak understanding of operations and when/where to use them. Struggles with worded questions, will avoid questioning if possible. If unsure, will try to guess the correct operation. Poor calculation skills.EOY7 Target Level 4

The success criteria were the same for all of the lessons and you can see Fran’s pre-lesson predictions. An interesting tactic used in the lessons was the newly designed overlay.

08

Rather than explaining to the students how it could be used, the teachers gave it out and asked the students how they thought it could be used to help their learning. This is an excellent questioning and thinking strategy and coupled with an emphasis on literacy and explaining what the 4 key words meant, each teacher felt that their planned strategy had possibilities in helping them to achieve a successful enquiry question.  One of the questions from Fran is below and Zoe’s predicted and actual response sheet shows confidence in the overlay tactic growing throughout the lesson.

09

1) Starter4 Quick Questions using each operation to assess confidence in methods. All 3 girls will know how to attempt each operation using a method, but may make calculation mistakes. C may look to others’ work for a correct method of division or multiplication if she is not confident she remembers. Confident using column addition. Difficulty using written methods of division, subtraction and multiplication. Confident using column addition and Chinese method of multiplication. Struggled with division and subtraction. Confident using column addition. Difficulty using written methods of division, subtraction and multiplication.
2) Describe operationsStudents will try to describe each operation using a sentence. All 3 girls will be able to think of some keywords relating to ‘add’, but will struggle with the other 3 operations. B will be most confident in her attempts. A and C may wait for answers from others. All 3 girls approached these descriptions in similar ways. The first operation was ‘Multiply’. Having been told not to use the word multiply, they immediately described this operation as ‘times-ing’, and followed this with an example question and answer. They also used an example to ‘describe’ Addition and Subtraction. They didn’t get around to attempting Division. It was clear they were restricted by their vocabulary relating to these operations.
3) Identify required operations.Suggestions will be taken on how to use the overlay provided. Each table will have a worded question to complete using the overlay.I will demonstrate its use with 1 question. The pupils will then move around the room to attempt 10 questions themselves, filling their answers in on the sheet provided.*Extension sheet involving more complex questions will be able available if they complete this task. All 3 girls will recognise some keywords on the overlay. B will find most questions can be related to keywords, but may not read the questions carefully enough to identify the correct operations. A and C will be able to recognise some add and subtract questions using keywords, but will struggle more with multiplication and division questions. 4 Questions completed.Successfully chose the keyword, operation and performed the calculation correctly. 4 Questions completed. Successfully chose the keyword and operation for each question. Made mistakes in the calculation of a subtraction question. 4 Questions completed.Successfully chose the keyword, operation and performed the calculation correctly.
4) Describe operationsStudents will be asked to attempt their descriptions of each operation again, and compare this to their first attempt. All 3 girls will be able to think of keywords relating to each operation, perhaps with the help of the overlay. All 3 girls referred to a particular keyword from the overlay in their second attempt at describing operations. They didn’t get around to describing every operation, however they understood that their vocabulary had widened in relation to each operation, and could use these keywords instead of relying on example questions.

Zoe explained to our visitors from Culceth that there was a real ‘light bulb’ moment for her as a result of the more detailed analysis of student responses and learning that lesson study offers; “What I assumed was wrong and why the students were struggling was inaccurate-I thought that they were guessing and that the problem of learning access was that they couldn’t understand the literacy aspect of the question. They were in fact ‘sensing’ the correct method but couldn’t execute it/articulate why.”

Hannah S and Holly’s initial concern was with the issue of poor understanding of command words in G.C.S.E science and they decided to begin to trial ideas to circumvent this in year 7 onwards.

Question: How can we improve the understanding of the command words describe and explain  [and the use of correct connectives]to allow middle achieving year 7 boys to improve the quality of their answers and peer critique?

Success Criteria

Pupil A

 

Pupil B

 

Pupil C

 

  1. 1.       Student will be able to demonstrate understanding of exam command words.    
  2. 2.       Students will be able to correctly identify the appropriate ways to answer describe/explain questions.
  3. 3.       Student will improve marks in the general describe / explain question.
Misconstrues the meaning of questions during tests. Target:  5+Spring: 5 Does not revise for tests, marks could be picked up if he understood what is being asked on the application questions. Ever6Target: 4+Spring: 4- Doesn’t answer application questions in tests, only recall questions. Target: 5+Spring: 5-

 They both used an interesting starting approach;

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The same exercise was repeated at the end to see if after the lesson on describe/explain [and the science bit!] different responses were produced-they certainly were-many students really struggled to produce an explanation that was different to their description. They then introduced a card sort [see below] that could be easily adapted to other subjects with the same issue [all of them!] to help the students understand the command words-this was also made into a laminated mat for constant use [once the cards had been sorted!]-before the class attempted a recap question and peer assessed. Interestingly the mark scheme given was very general-without the answers-to make the peer assessors think harder. [Older students/year 7 with practise could write their own]

Activity:2.25-2.36Students will answer questions based on experimental data retrieved the previous lesson. The structure is as follows: identify, describe, explain, compare and contrast.  NB not all students will be expected to reach the compare and contrast question. Self assess

2.36 – 2.40

Students will have the opportunity to check SPaG and identify connectives and key words they have used.

A: will use the mat to refer to answer the question, but will miss out suitable connectives. B: will struggle to answer the explain question at first. C: will answer all questions using the mat to refer to but detail will be limited and won’t use the hints and tips. A used the mat to get the correct connectives however he did not use the correct science until prompted.  He understood the science when questioned verbally but without that questioning would not have written the answer down. B tried to explain the trend in the first question which was to identify. C used the correct command words for the correct questions but he did not include the correct scientific explanation.

How well could the 3 students peer assess-throughout the blogs there is a concurrent theme-they can’t unless they are taught how to and even then they need verification from more than 1 other student. Using blue and red pens the process developed and the responses can be seen below.

Peer assess2.40 – 2.48Students will then use a generalised mark scheme to peer assess, this will be to test if the 3 chosen students can identify the difference between describe and explain when marking somebodies answer.  They mark scheme makes it clear what is expected without giving answers.  This also allows these students to see other students work for ideas on how to improve their own. A: Will mark accurately but feedback can sometimes be limited, from this point in the lesson I expect the penny to drop for Aaron of what is expected from the describe/explain questions. B: will be slow to start and will focus on SPaG marking. He will need encouragement to complete the marking.  He will realise at this point exactly what he had been doing incorrectly beforehand. C: will give detailed feedback of what was done well but limited feedback on what needs to be done to improve.  Encouragement/ guidance may be needed. A marked his partner’s work well and spotted that his peer needed to include more scientific key words, but when giving an example of those key words he used a connective. B identified that his partner had not described the trend correctly but he was unable to give an example of how to improve. C The feedback he gave was limited.  The praise was accurate but in the EBI and example he confused key words for being connectives.
Improve:2.48 – 2.54Students will then improve their answer using blue pen to increase the number of marks. All students will manage to improve to gain marks at this stage but this may not be enough for full marks. A improved his work massively at this point.  However he missed the scientific key words until he was prompted.  His peer assessor had not mentioned key words in the feedback they gave him. B worked slowly to improve.  He used the correct science verbally to explain but he worked to slow to write his explain answer down. C improved but with no use of scientific key words even after prompting, through verbally dialogue he displayed an understanding of the science however.

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Command Words Card Sort

Calculate   Answers should be written in the space provided, eg on a diagram, in spaces in a sentence or in a table.   Use comparative such as ’however’, ‘whereas’ ‘but’ and ’on the other hand’.
         
Compare   Describe the similarities and/or differences   Suitable linking words could be ‘so’, ‘therefore’, ‘because’, ‘due to’, ‘since’, ‘this means’ or ‘meaning that’.
         
Complete   Describe the advantages and disadvantages. A more detailed version of compare.   Make sure you use the correct scientific keywords.
         
Describe   State the reasons why something happens scientifically.   Use comparative words such as ‘better, ‘more than’, ‘less than’, ‘quicker’, ‘more expensive’, ‘on the other hand.’
         
Evaluate   The answer must be based on the information given in the question.     Sometimes the words need to be picked from a list. It will say if they can be used more than once.
         
Explain   State facts, events, a trend in results or a process.   Include units in your answer.Show your working.
         
State, give, name, write down   You need to apply your knowledge and understanding to a new situation.      Useful words to use are ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘could’, and ‘I think that’.
         
Suggest   Use numbers given in the question to work out the answer.   Unless you are specifically asked to, use only the information in the question.
         
Use the information in the passage /diagram /graph/table to…     Only a short answer is required, not a detailed explanation. Often only one or two words are required.   If the question asks you to state, give, or write down one example, you should write down only the specified number of answers or you may lose marks.

 

13 14 15

It’s a beginning and I view the peer critique in process here as a great opportunity for the learning of all involved to be improved via reflection and thought.  How far can peer critique be developed and how much time we should spend on it-what impact does it really have on learning, which types have the biggest effect size and so on, are perhaps for a much bigger piece of research! For individual teachers and students, crucial learning marginal gains may be made-can we measure and prove this to be the case in your classroom?

I’ll feedback again on our lesson study after summer-although a couple of lessons aren’t enough and I firmly reject any notion of lesson study as a ‘quick fix’ for any aspect of learning and teaching- the ideas I’ve seen raised as enquiry questions are important ones that we need to return to, need to find out more about from internal and external sources and need to find time to plan and feedback in pairs [and as teams/whole staff] during next term-the directed time meetings and lesson observation schedules will reflect this need. I’ve signed up for NTEN again and will be inviting colleagues to go to their meetings and visit participating schools [and the EG schools network and Leading Edge too] The power and enthusiasm of the talk about lesson study and its impact on their learning and teaching, after such a short time, from Hannah, Jen, Zoe and Holly to our Culceth colleagues; left Alison and myself, full of pride and inspired us to vow to keep this CPD development going and of course, as two old pro’s, to think that the future of our school and quality of teaching within it, is in wonderful hands!

Rachael’s presentation to the Sefton Head teachers is attached below.

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15 Slide16 Slide17 Slide18 Slide19 Slide20 Slide21 Slide22 Slide23 Slide24 Slide25 Slide26 Slide27 Slide28 Slide29 Slide30 Slide31 Slide32 Slide33 Slide34 Slide35 Slide36 Slide37 Slide38 Slide39 Slide40 Slide41 Slide42 Slide43 Slide44 Slide45

Lesson Study so far…..

Since we decided to become involved with the NTEN [National Teacher Enquiry Network] lessons study/CPD audit project in autumn, many of our blogs have included feedback on the progress our group of volunteers have been making. I’m not going to go over all of the ideas again but here are some of the key blogs, if you haven’t seen them before or want to check them out again.

The beginning and first attempts

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=134

The CPD audit

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=129

A maths example in Chucklevision 2

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=349

Detailed art feedback and my conclusions and thoughts re future lesson study

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=589

More science feedback and resources towards the end of Chucklevision 4

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=500

A bit more year 7 maths in Magic Moments 2

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=615

A quick reminder of the NTEN slide which explains the general idea.

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Basically 2 teachers choose an aspect of their teaching and student learning which data or professional judgement shows is an area of concern-they plan together and observe each other before feeding back and discussing how their idea has made a difference [or not] before refining their approach. They are encouraged to seek internal or external ideas/research to help them with their enquiry. A 3RD colleague may assume the role of coach/mentor. 3 target students are chosen to focus on and the pre-planning includes the teacher predicting how the student will react to each stage in the lesson-the observer watches along with the teacher to see what the actual responses of each student is. They can then discuss how the learning progressed after the lesson and after a period of time, will measure in an appropriate way, the impact their tactics have had on student learning.The process is explained in much more detail in the other blogs-this is just in case any readers are new to the idea.

For non-teachers reading the blog, this is a different approach surprisingly to what is normal observation practice in many schools-but not all! There often isn’t as much time as teachers would like to plan together in high schools and peer observations, whilst growing are still not seen everywhere. Lessons are often graded when observations occur and are formal and part of the appraisal process. Many schools follow Ofsted style criteria when preparing for and evaluating lessons and the observations may be more judgmental than developmental-every school is different so these are generalisations.  No grades are involved with lesson study and they are informal and involve volunteers, so far, who have agreed to participate and give up time because they think that it will be a valuable for their professional development. The feedback and discussions concentrate on talking about the learning and teaching rather than focusing on grades.

This wasn’t a totally new and radical change of practice for our teachers-lesson observations here are always peer observations, can be formal for appraisal purposes or informal for colleagues to share ideas and we have moved away from grading lessons over the last couple of years to having a detailed conversation afterwards highlighting areas that went well and providing advice and feed-forward. This isn’t a soft option! If the lessons don’t go well, peer observers are expected as professionals to be supportive and offer guidance and not to avoid any tough issues. We can’t tell the students to develop a mind-set of making the best use of constructive criticism if we can’t follow the same advice! Everybody has a duff lesson sometimes-if it happens the teacher simply has another go and we move on. The quality of our teachers and teaching must never be based on 1 lesson!-[more on how we self-evaluate this after next week’s inset or check out these blogs which track our ideas since September ]

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=69

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=134

 http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=269

http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=674

I have been really grateful to our volunteers who have used their own time to work together-I wasn’t able to change directed meetings so easily to give a bit more time for their planning so much was done outside of normal timetabled planning and preparation time. Although staff have been kept informed via internal collaboration of what has been happening and the resources and planning/feedback have been shared-I asked our team to present a short résumé of their lesson study so far this week so that others could see how it worked in practice-just in time for the next colleagues to volunteer! Making the use of the maths suite of rooms, each pair spoke for 8 minutes or so to 6 different groups of their colleagues. Senior staff don’t normally attend developmental meetings e.g. learning hubs so that the teachers aren’t inhibited or feel they are being spied on! It is their time to chat freely and develop their ideas, however knowing how much hard work had gone into lesson study/how interesting it was I did unleash SLT and Alison into the rooms so they could celebrate the CPD opportunity.

Alex and Clair

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Our oldest, and soon to retire colleague, Barbara was kept awake by the 2 mathematicians feeding back on their work which focused on trying to improve 7 set 7’s ability to answer functional skills.

 What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

Could we improve how the class answered functional questions by supporting and developing their basic literacy skills as we knew that the students had the maths skills but weren’t sure if they could apply them to big questions. E.g. functional questions with words rather than just sums! Clair and Alex felt that the reading of the question and understanding what was needed was proving to be a learning stumbling block.

 How you planned and where your ideas came from.

Alex and I planned our lessons so that they had a structure of how to answer these questions. This is shown below.

 The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

We chose 3 boys that had shown us already that they had the maths skills but hadn’t performed particularly well in the KS2 examinations. All 3 seemed to have improved at the end. Interestingly after the first session, it was noted that the more able mathematician struggled the most. A quick check showed that he had the lowest reading score.

 Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

All the students said that they weren’t scared of these questions anymore and they were now more confident when faced with these questions. The year 7 assessments are next week so we will have data based evidence to prove before and after impact.

 Benefits of being involved.

Planning with a colleague as you don’t usually have time to do this

03 04

A couple of the sums were obviously proving a tad tricky for 2 of our technology geeks!

Katie and Lisa

Our 2 English ladies both began their lesson study with year 10 in earnest but as 2 colleagues gained promotion before Xmas, Lisa took over the faculty and her other new priorities made the next round of their planning and observations difficult-they explained what they had been able to achieve before the changes and before they had to temporarily abandon LS.

05 06What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

Does writing using persuasive devices enable students to transfer this skill when reading, identifying and explaining them in non-fiction work?- We wanted to show students that there was a significant overlap in writing and reading skills. Many students are able to use persuasive devices when writing a leaflet or advert for instance but then struggled to explain why other writers may have included them in their work and what effect they have.

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

We planned the lesson so that it included short, fast-paced tasks in order to allow the teaching of both reading and writing skills as previously they have been taught separately simply due to time constraints.

The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

We chose three students each with varied abilities as we wanted to observe whether this strategy was something that was accessible for all needs.

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

Students achieved better than expected on the whole and were able to recognise how the reading and writing skills overlapped.

Benefits of being involved.

Planning with another member of department, observing another teacher

How could Katie choose this topic to teach in front of me knowing me to be a great animal lover!

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Adele and Katrina

What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

How effectively can we improve high attainers ability to peer /self-critique?

We chose to focus on this as we both identified that in GCSE the weakest area was where the students had to describe what they had done and why they had done it. We found that several points were being overlooked as they were too ‘obvious’ and students were losing vital marks because of this. We decided to use 8.1 as our enquiry class as we wanted to build the vocab in KS3 in preparation for GCSE.

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

We created a new resource for the students to use that broke down areas of the performance into key skills. We then planned the lesson around this. The students were asked to watch videos of their performances and use the vocab mats to create sentences. This then served as feedback. The class was split into groups of 5 with each student focusing on a different key skill

The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

We chose three students each with different strengths, one academic, one musically/drama talented and another who was confident. What we predicted would happen was different from the actual as the more academic student struggled to voice her opinion.

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

The students were much more confident in giving feedback and could relate to specific skills. They have also improved their levels in the subjects as they are now much clearer on what they need to do to improve

 Benefits of being involved.

Having time to try out new ideas and measure the impact, it’s usually quite difficult with only one lesson a week.

08 09 10 11

Rachel and Josie

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Rachel took on the groups without Josie, her art partner and managed to condense their very detailed lesson study [explained in full detail on the art sharing blog] into a quick tour of her marginal gains art gallery.

What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

How effectively can we improve the quality of sketchbook work in underachieving boys?

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

The question was based upon our combined experiences of GCSE teaching and  recent Ofsted reports discussing underachieving boys. According to GCSE student performance analysis 64.8% of boys achieve A*-C compared to 82.9% of girls.

Ideas came from the Ofsted report Making a Mark, an article called Art and design is still a gendered school subject and NSEAD resources and teacher forum.

The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

We selected students who in themselves were significantly below target, but that also represented groups within the class in order to have the widest impact possible. We found that our predicted outcomes were not always correct- the students often surprised us, and reacted differently. This gave us a real insight into the students’ needs. I found that students often exceeded my expectations!!

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

All students have gone up at least two sub-grades during the process, making faster than expected progress. Josiah went up a whole grade and is putting far more effort into his work.

Benefits of being involved.

The opportunity to be reflective- in our usual busy day we don’t have time to sit and think about our own practice, and this made me see the strengths and weaknesses in my own teaching, as well as identifying a number of techniques which could be used across key stages.

Rachel’s success criterion for one of her lessons was that;

1.       All students should begin to work with less support, taking responsibility for their own path to ‘mastery’.

2.       Students will take more creative risks, learning from their mistakes.

3.       Students will have more confidence in their own ability.

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She explained how her marginal gains wheel could support her aims buy focusing each student on their weakest skills [again in more detail in the other blogs] and explained the written aspect of her planning-the first column being her teaching tactic, the second column showing her predictions for how each student would respond and the final three describing how each of the students actually responded.

3 Students retry drawing, this time spending 20 minutes. Students are given small pieces of coloured paper and each time they notice a mistake, they write it down, take a photo and correct what they’ve done. Link to Marginal Gains. (20 mins) A and B will give the task a really good go. C may be more reluctant and ask for more help. All three boys will likely fill their ‘mistake papers’ quickly. Did not enjoy task. Focussing on mistakes was uncomfortable for him and made him feel self-conscious. He did not really try to improve his work. Work was marginally more skilful, so he did take on board some ideas. He was unable to identify minor mistakes, simply stating that he had done ‘everything’ wrong. B worked as expected. He had a good go at the task, and his work was of average quality. He identified his errors well and fixed them himself with little guidance. C was a real surprise- his drawing improved massively and he was able to verbally identify all small errors (though he did not write these down) and fix them independently and confidently. His work shows a real journey- he was able to engage with the process and found it helpful.

 

 

Rachael and Joe

As Joe was poorly, Rachael manned up and took on all-comers as you can see in the photo!

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Her own science colleagues led by subject leader Carmel,  gave her a hard time!

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Our new assistant head, Leon, pictured on the right, really enjoyed the innovative science approach.

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The second part of the science NTEN  built on the previous term’s work on developing extended answers.  This time around the focus was on interpreting the specification and writing the questions.  Groups were given a pack with a command word, a section of the specification and an example of a question.  The students discussed what made a good and bad exam question then set about the task of writing a question. 

When they had completed writing a question, they peer assessed using an overlay. The overlay prompted the students to dissect the question and suggest ways to improve it.  The students then went on to improve their question and develop a structured mark scheme.

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Key examination instruction words need to be understood and used when the students set their own questions.

What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

What impact will understanding command words have on answers to 6 mark questions for middle/high achievers currently underperforming in exams?

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

We used ideas from across department such as silver, gold, platinum outcome attached to levels, and the fishbone template for planning answers. We also used results from previous exam papers showing that students were not attempting the extended answer questions and when they did attempt them, not reaching the higher mark levels.

The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

We originally chose students that were two grades below target. They were either high attainers or in triple science, and we particularly focused on students who had shown a weakness in 6 mark questions. We found that the predicted outcomes were quite close to how the students actually responded to the activities in the lessons.

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

The students we focused on improved their six mark answers within the lesson, and their answers within the mock exams have also improved. We have also seen evidence of them planning their answers in the exams, and they are all now able to reach the higher mark band. Feedback from the students suggested that they had enjoyed the lesson, and several of them felt that they now had a better understanding of how to answer the 6 mark questions.

Benefits of being involved.

Having them time to plan with another member of staff, and being able to observe the impact of the activities first-hand.

Hannah and Jen

An English teacher and a maths teacher went FISHing!

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What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

To improve peer assessment and written feedback in low attainers. I and Hannah wanted to tackle peer assessment and the feedback students write for each other. We both teach a year 11 class with a lot of the same students and felt that we both had similar issues when it came to peer assessment and feedback. This has also been a target for the Maths department this year and is included in our DIP so we asked, ‘can we plan and prepare a peer assessment/critique structure that will have an impact on low attaining year 77 students.”

 

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

With the obvious difference in subjects it meant that the lessons had to been completely different topics but with the same/similar structure to build on peer assessment. We met prior to the lesson to come up with ideas for the structure that we would both use in a maths/English lesson. We used ideas for peer assessment already trialled across the school.

The 3 student idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

When planning the lesson it really helped to tackle how I expected each student to react and handle the different processes throughout the lesson. It was scary to see how accurate it could be predicted but at times we were surprised students we predicted would struggle handled the task brilliantly. This produced some interesting discussions afterwards between us. We chose 3 students based on a number of shared students and then decided who we thought would already produce good peer- feedback to who usually responds with limited detail.

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

The students responded really well in the lessons and produced some fantastic feedback on the model answers. They found it difficult in the second maths lesson to peer assess each other’s work but could still find positives and provide valuable feedback for a peer. The impact from the case study has been quantifiable from the students all improving their knowledge of the topic and successfully answering Pythagoras question which previous they had not. Qualitative impact has been the verbal communication from the students when tackling this topic, the case study students are able to provide oral feedback on these questions and worked examples.

Benefits of being involved.

What I really enjoyed was the difference in emphasis in the lesson planning – looking into more detail how to tackle a topic in lesson and the relaxed take on a lesson observation with the emphasis on how the students were responding to different stages.

What your enquiry question was and why you chose it.

Jen Filson and I looked at peer assessment. We were keen to see if this could actually be useful when teaching lower ability Y11 students.   We felt that students were mostly able to grade/level a piece of work, but this process was often limited as students were not clear ‘specifically’ of what needed to happen next.

How you planned and where your ideas came from.

We used the idea of FISH, which would seek to push students to be thorough when giving feedback (FISH= friendly, informative, specific and honest advice). We chose FISH as we felt it covered the areas that we were trying to address. As we were from different subjects, we focused on ensuring that our lessons both had the same structure to aid in measuring the impact of the chosen strategy.

The 3 students idea, how the paper work works! E.g. the predicted outcome and actual.

The predicted outcomes for both Jen and myself were extremely accurate. It is clear that this assessment really emphasised what they needed to do next for progression; it can be very difficult for lower ability students to critique extended writing pieces. Undoubtedly, FISH worked in the observed lessons as a good deal of time was devoted to the assessment of the piece and moving forward.

Any evidence that your tactic has worked-impact of your ideas.

Students are able to use FISH when given a model of how assessment should look- they are not able to do this with full independence yet. I am keen to use FISH with my KS3 classes to see if I can make it a very natural way of working/ assessing. For my lower ability Y11, it was a very time consuming process as reading/ understanding/ writing takes a great deal of time. I will continue to use FISH in DIRT sessions in the future with lower ability students, with the aim that over the course of time their self/ peer assessment will improve. Students are able to verbalise what they need to do to improve and I believe FISH has allowed them to grow in confidence when discussing their learning.

Benefits of being involved.

I enjoyed seeing how my students responded to challenge in Maths- I felt reassured knowing that the selected students face similar struggles in both subjects and exhibit similar behaviour when faced with challenge. It was nice to work with a totally different colleague and to have the time to discuss learning. It has given me plenty to think about. It is nice to take time to consider ‘how’ learning happens without the fear of getting it wrong- as with the process of NTEN it is not expected that the chosen enquiry question will necessarily conclude in success.  

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Although the presentations were brief, colleagues responded really well and came to tell me how useful the session had been and having seen lesson study in action, it was easy to gather volunteers for our summer sessions. So far we have;

Lisa and Rachael English

Hannah and Holly Science

Sheila and Zoe Maths

Rosie and Arron PE/dance

Bronagh and Emma Spanish and Geography

Helen and Marion MFL

Tim and Claudio ICT

Two of our directed time meetings that were originally planned for learning hubs will now be used for this group to plan and feedback, the first meeting will be used by our original group to meet each other [they couldn’t see each other’s presentations] My direction for other colleagues is ,

Colleagues not involved can use the meeting time to either continue with their present hub activities with colleagues from their hub or choose their own enquiry question/micro research to plan for.

It might be that you have an issue with a certain class or cohort/individual where you want to consider some different tactics and plan accordingly-you can use the time for this if you wish to. I shouldn’t have to direct certain topics all of the time and want to give you the professional freedom to use this hub time and next years to follow your own line of research [if you want to] Your research will go into your professional portfolio [that I will talk about for the first part of the next inset day] and can link with appraisal/CPD/anything else you fancy providing evidence for. Research doesn’t have to mean reading great tomes of academic stuff-if your data is showing an area where you can develop and focus on to improve your own teaching and then evaluate your tactics-go for it-that’s research to me!’

We will also be able to use our new Iris in-class cameras to enhance our feedback sessions. Those involved are excused the summer formal observations, although these observation follow a similar developmental approach in the feedback session as you can see on the observation sheet here.

Appraisal Observation Feedback     Teacher                                       Class         Observers

Subject chosen pedagogy Observer feedback comments to support development.How did each chosen strategy impact on learning? Anything you spotted for future devpt advice? Teacher view-did your teaching of each priority meet your predicted outcome and impact on student learning? Did you have to change tactics?
         

For the observer

3 bits of great teaching that inspired and that you are definitely going to use tomorrow! Your favourite piece of student learning-best penny dropping moment-what and with whom! What did you learn most as a teacher from today’s observation?
       

For the observed!

What would you like to develop next with either subject or general pedagogy? How can we [or others] help? How did today help your appraisal targets? Where next with this particular target?
       

The whole process of being involved in lesson study as a piece of personal CPD and the contribution made for the planning, delivery and feedback is celebrated and evaluated in our Professional Portfolio [to be completed on our May inset day] and as senior school leaders it provides yet another opportunity to ‘catch’ great practice in action-more Magic Moments!

Collaboration-learning Which lessons have you informally observed? What did you hope to gain from these obs? What were the key learning points you gathered from these? Which target groups did you aim your hub resources/ideas at? Why? Which ideas/resources have you ‘borrowed’ from colleagues and who did you target them at/why?  What did you try out in your lessons as a result of informal lesson obs?What was the impact on learning and how did you measure it?What was the impact on learning in your lessons of any hub/borrowed ideas? What is your evidence? Any specific groups/cohorts of learners?Have you managed to share any of your ideas in any forum? How will you take your lesson study forward to develop your ideas further? Which aspects of our collaborative work do you need support with or need more of?
Collaboration-teaching Have you contributed to any of the FOCALS when we have discussed generic teaching issues? E.g.?Have you contributed to dept meetings when learning and teaching is discussed? E.g.?Have you been in involved with joint planning of lessons? Have you contributed ideas to the dept SEF?If a colleague has been having difficulties/concerns with a class-have you been able to offer advice and support? Have you sought help and advice when it was needed? For each of the examples you chose; how did your intervention make an impact on the teaching of others or yourself? How do you know? How did this then impact on student learning? How would you like to develop your contribution to the discussion and support of ‘teaching’?

From the learning and teaching areas of our individual contributions to great learning and teaching-self-evaluations-this is from the criteria for 2-5 years’ experience colleagues. More on this in a later blog.

The change over of learning study personnel provides a suitable time to reflect not only on our own developing practice but on the wider LS picture. Recent interesting additions to the debate have come from;

 http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/best-practice/lesson-study-the-power-of-three/ an NTEN feedback from both secondary and primary schools-article by David Weston

http://t.co/fRdNYI55Imhttp://t.co/bSoSxY4l0N  variety of lesson study exemplars collated by Phil Wood

https://dailygenius.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/making-little-research-big-a-meeting-with-kevan-collins/ some of the key issues for schools and the use of evidence/research-blog by Kev Bartle

http://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/research-practice-paradox/http://pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/researched2013/   blogs by Joe Kirby; raising questions about how schools might engage with research, and feeding back on a variety of opinions concerning the role of research in teaching.

For other schools reading the blog, we chose to join the NTEN group of schools due to the inclusion of their CPD audit as well as the chance to find our more about lesson study. As you can see from the collection of other ideas, lesson study isn’t just the domain of NTEN schools and the different strands of it may offer a relevant aspect to work with depending on individual and school situations-we certainly haven’t ‘cracked’ all of the elements successfully and schools involved are very open to supporting others-this isn’t a closed shop and all situations lead to different interpretations and implementations of lesson study-please don’t be put off trying an approach even if certain barriers seem to be prohibitive.

I had a recent twitter conversation with someone who could see some value in what they had read about lesson study but was concerned that 1] this was one of the favoured ‘pushes’ of a vociferous minority of tweeters and may just be a trendy idea that will be later mocked and rubbished much as brain gym, VAK, thinking hats, SOLO etc. have been-I don’t think that it is or will be but in any case if something works for you, ignore the screams of some of the ‘evidence’ based folk and do what is best for your students and yourself-don’t be bullied into giving up what your professional judgement tells you is the right thing to do! 2] They also didn’t feel that they could prioritise the time to do this given the pressure of all of their other work e.g. exam prep-time is always tricky and without SLT sympathy, even more difficult. They pointed out to me that whilst their ‘door is always open’ this wasn’t supported by school policy and cover. I hope that some of the ideas shared by schools involved show that lesson study can support other key priorities but another conversation showed that strong willed teachers can go it alone.

A friend who really wants to be involved in lesson study ‘borrowed’ the NTEN resources, which are open to all and approached a reluctant senior leader and persuaded them to let themselves and 2 colleagues trial lesson study. This is in a school, similar to the previous situation, where peer observations and informal drop-ins are very new [sometimes schools who work in a different way don’t realise the collaboration or lack of it that happens elsewhere and how difficult it is for fellow teachers to access CPD like lesson study] Good luck to them-I hope that they are successful and able to persuade others, including SLT, of the value of this approach.

Others may be interested in the non grading, non judgemental developmental approach of lesson study and want to trial it as a different form of lesson observation-again perhaps to persuade SLT that  there is life beyond lesson grades! OR perhaps a member of SLT wants to show a grade obsessed staff the same thing-it does happen! There is no reason why lesson study can’t complement and run alongside formal graded observations, if that is your preferred form of observation or, as in our case, be part of a wider evaluation of the quality of teaching linking to appraisal. The coaching element may interest some more than the research and enquiry aspects or for some schools who are already developing pedagogical leaders; the research may be king. My point is that there is something for everybody to consider and develop and that there are schools who will welcome interest and be supportive and non-judgemental. Our own school will welcome a visitor next week who has read about lesson study and at a conference at Failsworth recently, there were a couple of schools who had dipped their toes. St Mary’s at Blackpool [Stephen Tierney @leadinglearner] and we are the only 2 [still I think] involved in the NTEN in the NW and both schools are ordinary [in terms of intake only!] comprehensive schools that would make any visitor most welcome and more important share ideas and open classroom doors to you.

I explained some of the key issues we need to consider at the end of the Magic Moments blog and needless to say our lesson study is ‘learning in progress’, we need to build in more planning and reflection time, create sharp and focused enquiry questions, use data as a helpful tool to support teaching innovation [engage with it before and after the enquiry]  and to try to use practical research more effectively and encourage all staff to try to see the relevance and importance  of research so that they are prepared to find the time to consider researching on a small scale themselves. [I’ll still keep feeding research out!] I obviously believe that this form of CPD is pragmatic enough to join together research and school based learning and teaching so that a difference to student learning can be made BUT my 20 plus years of teaching 5 lessons a day and the planning and marking time that this work-load entails are a distant memory subsumed under years of leadership-great CPD must be owned by my colleagues, be relevant to their current professional learning and teaching needs not ‘done’ to them or at them.

 I love getting the train to Aigburth and walking back to the pier head taking in the sights and sounds of the Mersey and I always pause towards the end of my walk at Billy Fury’s statue and think about his great song and relate it to anything I try to achieve at school. “Halfway to paradise, so near, yet so far away” Upwards and onwards with lesson study and CPD!

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CPD-The finest that Woolworths could sell

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool
That’s noted for fresh air and fun.
And Mr Jones and Bridget, went there to get t’ NTEN audit done
A grand little school was St Mary’s,
With glass classrooms and a bleeper instead of a bell.
We met Mr Tierney, his teachers and governors,
The finest that Woolworth’s could sell!

I recited the lovely old monologue Albert and the Lion at a Boy’s Brigade show nearly 50 years ago. It evokes a picture of a Lancashire family perhaps in Wakes week visiting 1930’s Blackpool and not being too impressed with the somnolent lion in the zoo and the ocean where the ‘waves was fiddlin’ and small’ Albert, their son livened things up for them by shoving his stick, with the ‘orses ‘ead ‘andle, purchased at Woolworth’s into Wallace the lion’s ear. Having watched their son eaten by the lion, Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom saw the opportunity to cash in their insurance of him before, sadly for them, being deprived of their windfall when the lion, feeling sorry for the lad, spat him out again!

I drove past the zoo this week as I visited 2013 Blackpool to meet Stephen Tierney, the executive head-teacher of St Mary’s Catholic College and some of his colleagues. Both schools are members of the National Teacher Enquiry Network which has a requirement that member schools audit each other with regards to CPD and it is a great opportunity to learn from best practice across England and, of course to visit other schools. Unlike Sefton, Blackpool was awarded some BSF [Building Schools for the Future money] and St Mary’s were fortunate enough to have been able to benefit from the government funded project. I last visited the school before building work began and missed out on the difficulties teaching and learning on a building-site must bring, to appear again when it has been almost completed! The school really did look great and there were many features that I would love to see at Meols Cop to support our learning. Interestingly some of the classrooms were almost like glass boxes where you could see the next class through the sound-proof glass and the staff-room had a huge working area for teacher planning and preparation. The old ‘heart’ of the school, the beautiful chapel still remains with a new area for reflection and contemplation looking down on it. This is always an interesting aspect of a faith school that makes me wonder where a non-faith school such as ourselves would call the ‘heart’ of our school. Perhaps it isn’t a physical thing but a moment in time, such as Children in Need Day, when the community pulls together, teachers giving up their planning to cover lessons for colleagues attending personal events, supporting each other as students or adults when support is needed-what do you think?

NTEN asks that as many staff as possible complete an audit about CPD before the visit and on the day the NTEN representative [Bridget] and visiting senior leader have to interview a cross-section of staff which must include NQTs, experienced teachers and governors. Strangely there were no questions expected of support staff and we both expressed a desire for this to be included. We sent our recent TA development work to NTEN to share with other schools. The staff interviewed were all enthusiastic about the great training opportunities they are offered at St Mary’s and told us about their Thursday early finish, which allows 2 hours of collaboration and their volunteer meetings and roles which include teachmeets and fellows; 4 colleagues who teach for 4 days and then have a day to research/support other colleagues. All talked excitedly about both informal and informal discussion of teaching, which is perhaps one of the best ways of continuing professional development.

Stephen himself is an old CTK boy and his parents are church friends of Helen Hallmark so it was a nice opportunity for him to visit our school on the day after for the first time since he had played soccer against us as a teenager. He openly shares many of his ideas on his popular personal blog and is currently sharing his SEF-his evaluation document of the areas of school that the Ofsted inspectors like to see! Sadly many schools, and often the ones who should be looking at best practice, don’t look at the wonderful ideas the world-wide net offers. BUT many do and there is a growing collaborative approach from many involved in education, which can only be a good thing ultimately for the children whom we teach. We have been actively responding, especially in Random Acts of Kindness Week, to schools which have been very open with their ideas by thanking them and responding in their comment sections and sending some of our ideas. Our correspondence has included Passmores school in Essex, Bridgewater College in Somerset, Chew Valley in Bristol and Huntington in York-they may have liked our stuff and may have found it useful [or not!] but it’s our way of trying to support the open flow of ideas.

The questions on the audit [I’ll tell you the results when they arrive] may interest parents and hopefully they will agree that well trained professionally developed teachers should be our key priority here. We were asked if parents were aware of and involved if staff development-hope this blog is communicating this aspect-and about the role students have in evaluating teaching-see last week’s blog. I know that parents will expect us to regularly discuss learning and teaching and to be aware of the best methods, proven by research, of teaching their children-this was the focus of a key section of the audit. One of the key descriptors for the gold standard for me was the notion that “Every teacher is a leader and ‘change agent’-i.e. they feel able to make a difference to the quality of learning in the organisation.” I would actually widen this to include all students and staff-Super Teachers, Super TAs, Super Learners-and my definition of CPD, suggested to our staff when I reflected on my views to them is;

CPD 2013-I believe-do you agree?
Think not what my CPD can do for me; think what my CPD can do for our students!
Adults directly involved in student learning are responsible for analysing and evaluating their own skill needs so that they can continually seek marginal gains in their own performance –result exceptional learning and professional satisfaction and pride. Meols Cop co-educators never stop learning and we are all ‘agents of change’ and lead learners.
Leaders and managers must support and celebrate the process with focused advice, time and constantly model and demonstrate exceptional learning characteristics themselves.
Collaboration and sharing of ideas and pedagogy must include ALL and the opportunities to do so must be created and time to plan and show impact on learning must be given and modelled.
The students need CPD too-key learning characteristics and mind-sets must be encouraged and actively taught.

Stephen and Bridget interviewed our staff representatives Joe Ford, Rachael Moreau, Colin Lee, Phil Johnson, Joanne McDevitt and Jen Filson as well as Adele Wills, one of our governors and Principal of KGV. I could have chosen any of our teaching staff to talk about their own and the school’s CPD philosophy in action but as the interviews were only 20 minutes long, certain colleagues may have simply overwhelmed our visitors with a torrent of ideas [and thrown in a progress check!] Seriously though, colleagues in both schools have been given the chance to develop as professionals to be the best that they can. My first blog ages ago, began with the now well quoted statement from Dylan Wiliam

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better!”

Parents, carers, teachers and all concerned with education have to believe this and make it so! Individual teachers and support staff do have an individual responsibility to constantly analyse their own skills and to want to develop them [both sets of teachers included colleagues using their own time for MAs, their own blogs, reading of research etc.] and we as senior leaders have to encourage and create the best opportunities for this to happen. Great teachers reflect on their own practice, they innovate, they research and check out best practice internally and externally and they take risks and are encouraged to do so! We had a great chat with our St Mary’s colleagues about this and what it actually means. You may not have to be an Albert Ramsbottom and go shoving your horse’s head handle stick in to some un-expecting lion’s ear, but it makes for great learning and an engaged and interested set of students!